Unabomber suspect's brother says government misled him David Kaczynski bitterly describes cynical reversal

November 23, 1997|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- David Kaczynski, who turned in his brother as the suspected Unabomber, said in an interview Friday that he had been misled by investigators and prosecutors into believing that they saw Theodore J. Kaczynski as a mentally ill man who would "be happier in jail."

David Kaczynski spoke bitterly about what he described as a cynical reversal by the government, as his brother's psychiatric condition has become the central issue at his trial for four of the string of bombings that began in 1978.

The prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty, have conducted an intense effort to bar defense lawyers from asserting that Theodore Kaczynski is mentally ill. They say that is the only appropriate sanction because he refused to be examined by government psychiatrists.

But David Kaczynski said federal agents told him before his brother was arrested in 1996 that reading the Unabomber's lengthy manifesto had convinced them that they were "not dealing with a political terrorist but with a disturbed individual."

Last week, prosecutors said that defense assertions that Theodore Kaczynski was a paranoid schizophrenic who is pathologically afraid of psychiatrists might be mere "trial tactics." And, referring to him as they would a terrorist, they quoted from his journals to cast him as a man who was trying to avoid being labeled a "sickie" to protect the image he sought to give of himself as an anti-technology crusader.

"Their actions," David Kaczynski said, "suggest to me that they are looking for a potential result, which is to put a disturbed, sad, lonely, isolated person to death without regard for his mental state and without regard to the really principled cooperation of his family in protecting the public and trying to help someone they love."

David Kaczynski has made no secret in the past of his anguish over the Justice Department's decision to seek the death penalty against his brother. But the remarks were his most combative and foreshadowed the extraordinary role he is expected to play at the trial when he is to plead for the life of the brother he turned in.

His presence in the witness box will most likely be the most potent part of the defense case, posing the rhetorical question of whether anyone would ever again turn in a disturbed and dangerous brother in a case in which he could face the death penalty. The string of 16 bombings caused three deaths and injured 29 people.

Pub Date: 11/23/97

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