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Va. Judge Dismisses Case Against Muhammad

The judge ruled that because the filing jurisdiction, in this case Fairfax, "can at any time obtain the subject of the detainer for trial . . . the filing of the detainer is considered an arrest in the context of the speedy trial analysis."

In the prosecution's motion to reconsider, Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh wrote that "the evidence shows clearly that Muhammad was not detained, much less arrested, on the Fairfax charges until May 2004." Morrogh also said "there simply is no such thing as a 'formal' arrest versus an informal one. 'Funk' did not create a new category of arrest in Virginia whereby one may be less than formally arrested and thereby trigger the running of the speedy trial statute."

Maj. Charles Land, the superintendent of the Prince William jail, said yesterday that he received paperwork from Spotsylvania and numerous other jurisdictions after Muhammad arrived there in November 2002.

The Spotsylvania prosecutor, William Neely, did not return a call seeking comment.

Six of the 10 fatal Washington area sniper shootings occurred in Montgomery County. State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler said Maryland's speedy trial act would not apply to Muhammad "unless and until the defendant is actually in Maryland."

Gansler did not say that Montgomery should be next in line to try Muhammad.

"The epicenter of the crimes occurred in Montgomery County, the most victims occurred in Montgomery County, but Alabama has an interest in trying the defendants, as does Louisiana," Gansler said. "It's really a decision that's going to be up to Virginia, and I don't think any kind of official dialogue has begun at this point.

"It's really not about how eager I am, one way or the other" to try the case, he said. "We had six homicide victims here in Montgomery County; none of them has had their day in court. Neither has the community at large had its day in court."

Staff writers Cameron W. Barr, Jerry Markon and Michael D. Shear and researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.

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