Muhammad Trial

Closing Statement by Prosecutor Richard A. Conway

Friday, November 14, 2003; 12:21 PM

The following is the transcript of the Nov. 13 closing argument by Prince William Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Richard A. Conway in the capital murder trial of John Allen Muhammad. This is from a preliminary transcript of court proceedings compiled by court reporters Fiduciary Reporting Inc.

CONWAY: May it please the court, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. My name is Rick Conway, as I'm sure you know. This is my first opportunity to address you directly, and I want to begin by thanking you for the time and attention you've put into this case.

It's certainly not uncommon for an attorney to begin a closing argument by thanking the jury for their time. I think we can all agree, however, that yours has been a very unique service. Yours has been different from most cases, maybe different from any other case.

For the past month you each had to live with the case that has some of the most horrific crimes, some of the most graphic violence, hopefully, that you'll ever see, that anyone will ever see. For the past month you've been living with a case -- that many of us here have been living with for over a year. Quite frankly, I don't think any of us will ever be quite the same because of this case; and it's unfortunate that we have to deal with crimes of this nature, horrific photographs, descriptions of injuries and death and destruction.

We can all take some solace in the fact that our lives will never be as irrevocably affected as those of the victims and the victims' families in these cases; and they come here seeking one thing, and that's justice. And, folks, that's what we ask, justice. The defendant, Mr. Muhammad, is charged with four crimes; and you just heard them described to you by Judge Millette. He's charged with two offenses of capital murder. He's charged with conspiracy to commit murder, and he's charged with using a firearm during the commission of a murder.

And, folks, Mr. Willett, Mr. Ebert and I are here to assert to you that justice in this case calls for guilty verdicts. Two guilty verdicts of capital murder. One guilty verdict of conspiracy to commit capital murder and one guilty verdict of using a firearm in the commission of capital murder. What I would like to do, I would like to talk with you first about some of the law that Judge Millette just read to you. The instructions of law, which will govern your decisions. I'm certainly not going to go over all of them. We got a lot of ground to cover today, and I will try to do it as expeditiously as I can. And there are some of these instructions that we feel are important for us to comment on. Now, as I mentioned, there are four crimes, and what I really want to spend some time with you talking about are the elements of the two capital murder crimes. Before I get to that, I will just mention that the conspiracy crime talks about an agreement. The elements are as Judge Millette just mentioned to you; that the defendant entered into an agreement with one or more persons, and here it's clear what the evidence is.

This is alleged that Mr. Muhammad and Mr. Malvo entered into an agreement. Now, we're not talking about some type of written document as I'm sure you know. We're talking about an agreement that they were going to set out and commit these murders, and they did so.

And, folks, the existence of an agreement may be inferred from the actions or conduct of the parties. And I suggest to you that's pretty much how you're always going to determine whether an agreement existed. And as we go through the evidence, I'm sure it will be clear to you that this was a joint effort -- bless you -- on the part of both of these individuals.

And using a firearm in the commission or attempted commission to commit capital murder. It's about all you've heard about for the past month, use of a firearm, after use of a firearm, after use of a firearm. We're talking about specifically the use of a firearm to kill Dean Meyers at no cost on Oct. 9. There can be no question that that's what caused his death.

Now, folks, what I would like to do is talk for a moment about these two capital murder charges; and the elements as Judge Millette set forth to you, that Dean Meyers was killed. We know that. That the killing was willful, deliberate, and premeditated. I think we all know that; that Mr. Muhammad premeditatedly killed more than one person within a three-year period.

Unfortunately, you've had to listen to fifteen shootings in this case resulting in ten deaths. All within a couple months, not three years. Folks, I would respectfully suggest to you that -- one of the biggest decisions you need to make in this case is going to be whether the defendant was a principal in the first degree or not. If not, you'd be a principal in the second degree for this particular charge. Now, this is the killing of two or more people. More than one person within three years. We need to show that he was a principal in the first degree, and that's where we have to refer to Instruction Number 9. A principal in the first degree is the immediate perpetrator of the offense, where two or more persons take a direct part in inflicting fatal injuries. Each joint participant is the immediate perpetrator for the purposes of committing capital murder. A direct part, folks.

Let me give you a couple of examples.

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