Sniper's lawyers ask for clemency, saying he's mentally ill

By Maria Glod
Friday, October 23, 2009; 7:57 PM

Attorneys for convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad said their client is mentally ill and they have asked Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) to spare his life.

Thirteen people were shot, 10 fatally, when Muhammad and accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, went on a random shooting rampage around the Washington region in 2002.

Muhammad's lawyers said in a statement they asked Kaine on Thursday to commute Muhammad's sentence to life in prison. They said Muhammad's illness is "illustrated by brain damage, brain dysfunction, neurological deficits as well as his psychotic and delusional behavior."

The defense team said Muhammad's mental illness was exacerbated by his military service in the first Iraq war. They presented Kaine with audio interviews of attorneys, mental health experts and a witness.

Muhammad, now 48, is scheduled to be executed Nov. 10. His lawyers said they plan to file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 3. The U.S. Supreme Court has banned executing the mentally ill.

A spokesman for Kaine said the governor does not comment on clemency requests until a decision is announced.

Malvo, now 24, was sentenced to life in prison.

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