By Joseph Straw New York Daily News
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba — Loreen Sellitto expected a monster.
What she saw was a small, bearded man chit-chatting with four others who helped him kill 3,000 people, including her son, on September 11.
“As a mother, I say they were raised or born as children of their God, from a family. And what brings such hate?” Sellitto asked. “What happened to them?”
Matt Sellitto, 23, and colleagues Greg Gonzalez, 31, and Jimmy Woods, 26, were among 658 employees of Cantor Fitzgerald killed in the terrorist attack.
This week, each man’s mother traveled to the Navy base here for pretrial hearings in the long-delayed death-penalty case against attack mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and those who helped him hatch the plot. The women said they came to witness justice in action for their sons.
“It is going forward, and that’s what we all want to happen,” said Joyce Woods of Rockland County. “For years it seemed like there was nothing going to happen.”
They experienced first-hand the delays that have dogged the case for years. This time, the day’s session was cancelled to give defense lawyers time to tweak motions in the case.
“I would rather have the process be drawn out if it will be more just,” said Phyllis Gonzalez, of White Plains. “I believe that’s one the strengths of our system. I’m not impatient.”
Sellitto, of Morristown, N.J. said justice delayed is not necessarily justice denied, but “justice protected,” because rushing the prosecution could leave convictions vulnerable to appeal. In October, relatives seethed at the military judge, Army Col. James Pohl, for indulging the defendants’ outbursts and granting their requests to wear camouflage clothing and skip court.
The defendants’ antics continued this week — but the three women said it did not matter.
Woods, however, said she wanted to see more of the defendants’ faces — including when they’re in court with their backs to the gallery.
“I would love to see remorse,” said Woods, whose firefighter cousin, Vincent Halloran, was also lost on 9/11. “I think that’s missing and that would make a great difference to me.”
Sellitto is joined this week by husband Matthew, and Woods by her husband James, a retired FDNY lieutenant who responded with Ladder 5 to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
The three women do not know if their sons were friends.
Cut off this week from U.S. newspapers and regular Internet access, Woods said she was unaware of revelations in the Daily News about hateful graffiti found scrawled in bathrooms at the new World Trade Center site.
“I would hope that it was some crazy teenager,” Woods said. “Because that is going to be the Freedom Tower, and that’s the very opposite of what it’s supposed to represent. So it disappoints me and it saddens me.”