A silent John Allen Muhammad was driven from a Sussex County, Va., prison to a Maryland jail before dawn yesterday in what authorities called an uneventful trip that brought him to Montgomery County to face trial in six of the 2002 sniper slayings.
Fifteen employees of the Montgomery County sheriff's office, including a medic, rode in six cars as the convoy -- joined by a Virginia state trooper escorting it to the state line -- started the journey with Muhammad about 1 a.m.
Muhammad, 44, said nothing during the ride, according to Montgomery Sheriff Raymond M. Kight. When Muhammad arrived at the county's central processing center for booking and processing, he was uncooperative during the fingerprinting process, Kight said. He later stared down and away from the camera in his booking picture.
"It was nothing confrontational," Kight said. "It was nothing that we couldn't manage."
Later in the day, Muhammad waived a bond hearing. He is being held at the correctional facility in Clarksburg.
A hearing scheduled for Sept. 2 will determine the time for future hearings and dates for the trial.
Even if he had opted for the bond hearing, there was no chance he would have been released, said State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler. The transfer agreement between Virginia and Maryland prevents the release of Muhammad, Gansler added.
"It's almost as if he's on loan from Virginia," he said.
Muhammad has been sentenced to death for a sniper killing in Prince William County. Fellow defendant Lee Boyd Malvo was found guilty of a sniper killing in Fairfax County and sentenced to life in prison.
Malvo, 20, has been jailed in Montgomery since May 25. Muhammad, however, refused to sign paperwork needed to extradite him to Maryland. On Friday, a Virginia judge ordered that Muhammad be moved to Montgomery, where he and Malvo have been indicted on murder charges in the six slayings.
"The only logistical effect of [the transfer] is that we know for sure that Mr. Muhammad and Mr. Malvo will now be present for that Sept. 2 hearing," Gansler said.
The predawn transfer was done strategically, Kight said.
"We didn't want the traffic to hamper us," he said. "At that hour of the morning, it's a lot easier to get him through Washington traffic."
Some officials had expressed concerns that Muhammad and Malvo could interact while being held in the same detention facility. Gansler, however, said the center can handle the situation.
"There are a number of pods at the detention facility, and the Department of Corrections is well-prepared and well-equipped to keep people separate," he said.
Six of the 10 Washington area sniper slayings -- including the first and last -- took place in Montgomery. If convicted, Muhammad could face the death penalty and Malvo could face six consecutive life terms in prison.
Gansler has said that prosecution of the two is necessary in the county as an "insurance policy" in case they are freed on appeal elsewhere. Maryland officials have agreed to return Muhammad and Malvo to Virginia once their trials in Maryland are complete.
Estimates of the cost of prosecuting the men in Maryland vary widely. Kight's office has said that securing the courthouse could cost nearly $400,000, while Gansler has said he expects the additional expense to be minimal.
Malvo and Muhammad were indicted in the Montgomery slayings of James D. Martin, 55; James L. "Sonny" Buchanan, 39; Premkumar A. Walekar, 54; Sarah Ramos, 34; Lori Lewis Rivera, 25; and Conrad E. Johnson, 35.