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D.C. Sniper: Execution date approaches for John Allen Muhammad

Michael Ruane
Washington Post staff writer and co-author, 'Sniper'
Monday, November 9, 2009; 12:00 PM

Michael Ruane, Washington Post staff writer and co-author of "Sniper: Inside the Hunt for the Killers Who Terrorized the Nation," was online Monday, Nov. 9, at Noon ET to discuss the case of D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammad who is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection in Virginia Tuesday at 9 p.m.

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Michael Ruane: Hello, Mike Ruane here to talk about the DC sniper case and answer your questions.

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Arlington, Va.: What are the hopes of a statement from John Allen Mohammad as to whether he was responsible to additional victims?

Michael Ruane: I am told by a Virginia prison spokesman that Muhammad will be given a a few seconds to make a final statement. It didn't sound like he would be allowed to make a speech. Who knows what he might say, if anything.

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Fairfax, Va.: How realistic is it to expect that a last-minute stay of execution will occur?

Michael Ruane: His lawyer has filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court. We do not know if or when they might take up the case.

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NW, D.C.: I've always held that the kid did most if not all of the shooting. Was that ever revealed at trial? I've tried to rationalize why he was spared the death penalty. Going back in my memory, when they shot the kid in Bowie that proved these folks were just callous killers.

I'm not pro-death penalty, but having lived through the fear I don't think I'll protest this one.

Michael Ruane: That's a great question. I believe there were certain indications at the trial about who shot whom. For example, Lee Boyd Malvo suggested at one point that he was the one who shot the Philadelphia businessman Kenneth Bridges at the Massaponax, Va., gas station, saying "he started coming back towards me and he got it." But I was never sure I could believe what Malvo said.

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Dallas, Tex.: Are there any efforts for appeals for this person? Do you think they will be effective?

Michael Ruane: There is a pending appeal for Muhammad before the U.S. Supreme Court. We don't know what response, if any, there might be.

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Washington, D.C.: How many families will watch the execution?

Michael Ruane: We know representatives of at least two families will be present, and there may be more. Lori Lewis Rivera's father, Marion, and former husband, Nelson, have said they will be present, and Dean Meyers' brother, Bob, has indicated that he and his wife will be present.

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Annapolis, Md.: Muhammad and the kid did their shooting spree over several states. Why was Virginia chosen to be the state in which he is scheduled to be executed?

Michael Ruane: Virginia was chosen because that is the state where victim Dean H. Meyers was murdered.

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Ellicott City, Md.: Has Mohammad made any statement of sorrow or regret for his actions? Do you know if Lee Malvo knows that his mentor will be executed tomorrow?

Michael Ruane: Great questions. I have not heard of Muhammad expressing and regret. And I am guessing that Malvo would be told about Muhammad's pending execution.

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washingtonpost.com: Awaiting the end for daughter's killer (Post, Nov. 9)

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Washington, D.C.: How do most of the victims feel that you interviewed?

Michael Ruane: It is a range of emotions. The people I've talked to are still hurting. Some have moved on, remarried, physically moved, started new families. Some don't want to discuss it. Others are trying to move on emotionally. One widow said she could not think of attending the execution because it would take her back to the pain of the past. Others want to witness the execution out of a sense of justice, or loyalty to the deceased, or to gain a measure of retribution.

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Washington, D.C.: Is there any significance to the fact that they're doing this at 9 p.m. instead of one minute past midnight? Aren't executions usually done in the middle of the night so as to minimize the tornado of protestors/media/publicity-seekers, etc.?

Michael Ruane: Virginia says their policy is that executions are conducted at 9 p.m.

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Virginia - The Chosen State: I thought Virginia was chosen because prosecutors were more likely to obtain the death penalty for Muhammad here than anywhere else, including Maryland and D.C.?

Michael Ruane: I believe that is correct.

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Washington, D.C.: In your research did you find that some people didn't want to revisit those days of 2002 when the snipers struck terror in everyone in the area? I remember the time and there was very much fear in the air -- at shopping centers, at gas stations, etc. It was unbelievable during that time. Comments.

Michael Ruane: It's interesting. When we started talking about it at the paper a few weeks ago, it dredged up amazing memories. Everyone had very vivid recollections of what it felt like, the fear, the wondering when it was going to end. I vividly recall the day they were captured. It was an overcast drizzly day, but there was this sense of exhilaration outside that it was finally over.

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Michael Ruane: Folks: We have just learned that the Supreme Court has denied Muhammad's request to stay his execution, which appears to clear the way for his death by lethal injection Tuesday night.

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New York, N.Y.: What city/prison will he be executed in?

Michael Ruane: 9 p.m. Tuesday. Greensville Correctional Center, near Jarratt, Va., south of Richmond.

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Washington, D.C.: In reading the Post's article today about the procedure of Mohammad's execution, I can't seem to be comfortable with the fact that he is going to essentially be put to sleep. The only comfort I have is from the notion that the victim's families will have closure from his execution, but given the terror he caused this entire area, and the degree to which his victims and victim's families suffered, I have a hard time coming to terms with the way this will end. Does anyone else feels this way?

washingtonpost.com: D.C. sniper set to be executed Tuesday (Los Angeles Times, Nov. 9)

Michael Ruane: Marion Lewis, the father or sniper victim Lori Lewis Rivera, told me he would favor the guillotine.

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washingtonpost.com: Supreme court denies request to stay D.C. sniper's execution (Post, Nov. 9)

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Vienna, Va.: So the Supreme Court has denied the stay, so that leaves only Kaine as the only option for Mohammad. Although he has said previously he could not see a way he would grant a stay, has he said so definitively?

Michael Ruane: I am not sure, but I am told that his intervention is unlikely.

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Michael Ruane: OK folks, I have to sign off now. Great talking to everybody. Thanks for writing in.

Mike Ruane

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