Muhammad Asks to Defend Himself

By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Sniper John Allen Muhammad has written a letter to a Maryland judge saying he wishes to represent himself during his first-degree murder trial because he has "no confidence or trust" in the two public defenders assigned to the case.

"I'm very patience, now I have no more patience with Paul and/or Brian," Muhammad wrote in a three-page letter, referring to Montgomery County public defender Paul DeWolfe and Brian Shefferman, two well-respected lawyers. "All they have done is 'lied' to me over and over Can you help me, I knew that I would need to fight in the court room but I didn't know that I would need to do that out side of the court room."

Montgomery Circuit Court Judge James L. Ryan filed Muhammad's handwritten letter as a motion and scheduled a hearing for tomorrow to discuss its merits.

"We expect to fully address the issues Mr. Muhammad addressed in his letter before Judge Ryan," DeWolfe said yesterday. He declined to respond in greater detail to the letter.

Muhammad wrote that he would appreciate "stand-by" attorneys "to assistance me in mine defence. Not to defend me in mine defence."

Muhammad said he has tried unsuccessfully to get his attorneys to tell the court that he wants to represent himself because "I don't want what happened in Va. on the first day of the trial."

Muhammad, 45, fired and re-retained his attorneys during his Virginia murder trial in the fall of 2003. He was sentenced to death in March 2004 after being convicted of killing one of 10 people slain during the sniper shootings that terrified the Washington area in October 2002.

He is scheduled to go on trial May 1 on charges that he randomly killed six people in Maryland with a high-powered rifle in the 2002 slayings. Lee Boyd Malvo, 20, who is alleged to be his accomplice and who also has been convicted of murder in Virginia, is scheduled to be tried in October.

Maryland prosecutors say convictions in the state would ensure the pair's continued incarceration and would give relatives of the six people killed in Montgomery County their day in court.

Muhammad said in his letter that he has been unable to review information the state intends to use in his trial, much of which is on compact discs, because part of it is formatted in a way "I do not understand at all."

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