Single Trial to Cover 6 Md. Sniper Slayings
Tuesday, March 7, 2006
Sniper John Allen Muhammad told a judge yesterday that he has been denied thermal underwear while in jail and access to evidence that prosecutors intend to use to convince a jury that he killed six people in Maryland during October 2002.
"I'm not asking for anything special from any other inmate at all," Muhammad told Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge James L. Ryan during the hearing in Rockville. "All I'm asking is: Allow me to have access to the discovery and exculpatory evidence so I can review it and go over it."
The grievances were unexpected addendums in a hearing set to tackle a handful of procedural issues for Muhammad's first-degree murder trial, which is scheduled to start May 1.
Muhammad -- the alleged mastermind of a series of random homicides in the Washington area committed with a high-power rifle -- appeared in a green jumpsuit, his feet and hands shackled.
Ryan ruled that prosecutors can try Muhammad in the six slayings in a single trial, rejecting the defense's motion to sever them into three trials.
The judge sided again with the state in allowing prosecutors to use evidence of other crimes Muhammad is accused of to demonstrate that the six Maryland homicides were part of a broader scheme.
Muhammad, 45, has been sentenced to death in Virginia. Maryland prosecutors say trying him again will give relatives of victims killed in Maryland their day in court. They also say a conviction in Maryland would guarantee his continued incarceration if the Virginia conviction were to be overturned. His alleged accomplice in the Maryland slayings, Lee Boyd Malvo, 20, is expected to be tried in October. He, too, was convicted of first-degree murder in Virginia.
As one of his attorneys began to argue for splitting the slayings into multiple trials, Muhammad interrupted him.
"Your honor, I objected to that motion being put in before this date, and I ask for that motion not to be put in," Muhammad said.
His attorney, deputy Montgomery public defender Brian Shefferman, acknowledged his client's objection but proceeded with his argument.
"I disagree with it 100 percent," Muhammad insisted.
Ryan asked Robert L. Green, warden of the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, to respond to Muhammad's complaint about lack of access to his legal documents.