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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Unabomber Suspect Agrees to Make Guilty Plea




WASHINGTON -- Unabomber suspect Theodore Kaczynski has agreed to plead guilty in return for a sentence of life in prison without parole, a U.S. federal official said Thursday.


The 55-year-old mathematics professor-turned-hermit agreed to drop conditions he had set on a previous plea offer that had been rejected in December by the Justice Department, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.


The agreement was expected to be presented in court in Sacramento, California, where Kaczynski's federal trial was beginning. The plea bargain resolves all federal charges against Kaczynski. He could still face state trials in states where bombings occurred.


Earlier, U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr. refused to allow Kaczynski to represent himself in the California trial.


The key development that changed the course of the case was the finding last week by a Bureau of Prisons psychiatrist that Kaczynski, while competent to stand trial, suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.


This was the major change that Justice Department officials had looked for as a basis for altering Attorney General Janet Reno's decision last spring to seek the death penalty.


Kaczynski's family has long argued that the man accused of killing three and injuring 29 over 18 years of bombings was a paranoid schizophrenic.


But Kaczynski himself had resisted examination by government psychiatrists until last week. Then he reversed course in a bid to prove he was competent to defend himself and dump two court-appointed lawyers who was to base his defense on mental illness.


In December, Kaczynski had offered a plea to avoid the death penalty but wanted to reserve the right to appeal whether the government could use evidence seized in his Montana cabin, including a completed bomb and a journal describing the Unabomber's attacks.


He also had sought federal help persuading local prosecutors not to seek his execution and had sought assurances that he would not be incarcerated in a federal mental hospital prison.


Those conditions were dropped during bargaining that took place beginning this week, the federal official said.


Kaczynski could have been sentenced to death if convicted.


Burrell's decision followed the unlikely alliance of the prosecution and the defense, who both filed court papers Wednesday arguing that Kaczynski had the right to be his own attorney.


But the judge said the motion -- sparked by Kaczynski's opposition to his lawyers' plan to portray him as mentally ill -- had come too late in the trial.


"It is an obvious attempt by him to purposely delay the proceedings," Burrell said. "It is unacceptable. It is patently unreasonable."


Kaczynski had said he wanted to mount a defense based on his ideological views -- the notion that technological society is destroying humanity.


The plea bargaining picked up steam after a court-appointed psychiatrist declared Kaczynski competent to stand trial but mentally ill, suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.


Meanwhile, President Bill Clinton said Thursday he believed Kaczynski's trial should be presented to a jury.


"Well, if he's guilty, he killed a lot of people deliberately," Clinton said on National Public Radio. "And therefore I think it's something that the jury should be able to consider."