Transcript

Sniper Trial: John Allen Muhammad

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Steven Benjamin
Criminal Defense Attorney
Monday, November 17, 2003; 2:00 PM

Guilty on all four counts against him: Capital murder, terrorism, conspiracy and use of a firearm. Muhammad Guilty on All Counts (Post story). That verdict was handed down Monday morning by the jury in the case of accused sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad.

Closing arguments began last Thursday in the capital murder trial. The prosecution recounted the shootings of Dean H. Myers and 15 others during three weeks of testimony. During closing arguments, Muhammad pleaded not guilty to two counts of capital murder, conspiracy to commit murder and illegal use of a firearm during commission of a felony -- all related to the slaying of Meyers who was gunned down at a gas station in Manassas, Va.

If convicted of capital murder, jurors will then hear testimony during a penalty phase of the trial before deciding whether Muhammad should be put to death by lethal injection or spend the rest of his life in prison.

Criminal defense attorney Steve Benjamin was online Monday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. ET to discuss the case.

Benjamin, is a partner in Benjamin & DesPortes, P.C., and limits his practice to criminal defense and appeals cases. His experience includes argument before the U.S. Supreme Court, the defense of multiple cases of capital murder and the exoneration of the wrongfully accused. He is a board member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and is president-elect of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

A transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

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San Francisco, Calif.: Mr. Benjamin,

As one who just moved from the D.C. area, I've been following the trial from afar. I'm curious about the legal/logistical reasons for not releasing evidence from this trial for the prosecution on the Malvo case. It seems the holdup is an annoyance to the judge and jury in this case and blame is placed with the prosecution -- why would they not readily hand over evidence that could help in a partnering case?

Steven Benjamin: The evidence in the Muhammad trial was admitted for the jury's consideration. It is appropriate for the jury to have that evidence while they deliberate. Once it is available, that is, after the trial is over, it can be made available for the Malvo prosecution.

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