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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Unabomber Diaries Back Prosecution Arguments

SACRAMENTO, California -- Jury selection begins Wednesday in the United States' latest marquee trial: the case of Unabomber suspect Theodore Kaczynski.


The 55-year-old former University of California, Berkeley, mathematics instructor, who spent half his life as a destitute hermit in the backwoods of Montana, is accused of being the elusive serial bomber who was the focus of one of the longest manhunts in FBI history.


When the trial kicks off Wednesday, federal prosecutors hope to turn Kaczynski indirectly into their star witness. His handwritten journals and diaries will form the backbone of the case, they say, revealing a picture of a deliberate killer who for 18 years terrorized the nation.


In an outline of their case, prosecutors said they discovered a wealth of evidence inside Kaczynski's tiny cabin on the Continental Divide implicating him to the string of bombings. Among other things, they found a typewriter allegedly used to type all identifiable Unabomber correspondence since 1982; a handwritten autobiography indicating that Kaczynski intended to start killing people, and a fully functional bomb.


With the evidence seemingly stacked against Kaczynski, who has pleaded not guilty, legal observers suggest that the only real suspense will occur in the trial's penalty phase. Will he get the death penalty? Or will appeals from Kaczynski's younger brother spare his life?


It was David Kaczynski's tip that led the FBI in April 1996 to arrest his older brother. But the anguished upstate New York social worker now finds himself waging a spirited campaign to keep his sibling from death row.


The evidence is expected to cast new light on the alleged Unabomber's anti-technology views; the mystery of how he went undetected for years, and whether Kaczynski is as mentally ill as his family claims.


Besides the Kaczynski family, the central protagonists will include his two chief attorneys, nationally known defense lawyer Judy Clarke of Spokane, Washington, and public defender Quin Denvir of Davis, California.


Opposing them as the lead government attorney is Robert Cleary, a special prosecutor out of Newark, N.J. The judge will be Garland E. Burrell Jr., who grew up in South-Central Los Angeles, and is the first black to sit on the federal bench in Sacramento.


Jury selection begins Wednesday. Jurors will be culled from a pool of 600 people from 23 Northern California counties, ranging from Stockton to the Oregon border. Jurors, whose identities will be kept secret, will be paid $40 a day plus $105 for "subsistence" if they live more than 144 kilometers away.


Kaczynski may mount a "mental defects" defense. Citing a paranoid schizophrenic condition, Kaczynski may argue he didn't have the requisite mental state to commit the crimes.


While prosecutors hope to tie Kaczynski to all the Unabomber explosions, he is specifically facing charges in four bombings. They include two blasts a decade apart in which two Sacramento men, Hugh Scrutton and Gilbert Murray, died.


In April 1996 Kaczynski was arrested in Montana and two months later indicted in Sacramento on 10 counts of illegally transporting, mailing and using explosive devices. The federal charges relate to bombs that were either mailed or exploded in Sacramento.