Execution set for DC sniper John Allen Muhammad
JARRATT, Va. — Virginia’s governor refused to spare the life of John Allen Muhammad and cleared the way for his execution Tuesday night for the sniper attacks in 2002 that left 10 dead and spread such fear people were afraid to go shopping, cut grass or pump gas.
The three-week killing spree in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., was carried out with a teenage accomplice who is serving life in prison without parole. Muhammad, 48, was to die by injection at 9 p.m. after he exhausted his court appeals and Gov. Tim Kaine denied clemency.
Muhammad’s attorneys had asked Kaine to commute his sentence to life in prison because they said he was severely mentally ill.
“I think crimes that are this horrible, you just can’t understand them, you can’t explain them,” said Kaine, a Democrat known for carefully considering death penalty cases. “They completely dwarf your ability to look into the life of a person who would do something like this and understand why.”
Muhammad was sentenced to death for killing Dean Harold Meyers at a gas station in northern Virginia. He and his accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, also were suspected of fatal shootings in Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana and Washington state.
‘DC sniper’ loses last hope of reprieve
The state of Virginia was preparing last night to execute one of the two men found guilty of carrying out the series of sniper attacks around Washington DC seven years ago that spread fear through the region and ended only when 10 people were already dead.
Any chance that John Allen Muhammad, 48, might be spared from lethal injection on Death Row appeared to have vanished when the Governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine, announced he would not be offering clemency. The execution was due to take place before midnight last night.
Muhammad and his accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, who was only 17 at the time of the attacks, became known around the world as the “DC snipers”. Until their capture, they travelled in an area around the edge of Washington, covering towns in both Virginia and Maryland, indiscriminately firing at citizens as they went about the most mundane of daily chores, like filling their cars with petrol or shopping.
Malvo is serving life in prison without parole for his part in the killing spree. He was the main witness at Muhammad’s trial, asserting that the shootings had been meant to create chaos as a diversion for Muhammad to seize his three children from their mother from whom he was estranged. Aside from the 10 people who were killed, another three were wounded.
DC sniper execution: why his case moved so quickly
John Allen Muhammad, the convicted D.C. sniper, is scheduled for execution in Virginia Tuesday night, after Gov. Tim Kaine (D) denied a request for clemency Tuesday afternoon.
It has been almost six years since Mr. Muhammad was sentenced to death for the murder of Dean Meyers, one of the 10 people killed during apparently random sniper attacks in the Washington, D.C., area in September and October 2002.
With approximately 68 months between his sentencing and scheduled execution, Muhammad’s case has taken roughly half the typical duration for death-penalty cases. Nationally, it takes on average 153 months – almost 13 years – between sentencing and execution for death-row inmates, according to 2007 data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
The Supreme Court noted the accelerated pace of Muhammad’s execution in its decision Monday not to hear his case or delay his execution.
“By denying Muhammad’s stay application, we have allowed Virginia to truncate our deliberative process on a matter – involving a death row inmate – that demands the most careful attention,” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in a statement explaining the court’s rejection of the Muhammad appeal. “This result is particularly unfortunate in light of the limited time Muhammad was given to make his case in the District Court.”
D.C. sniper’s intended victim doesn’t expect an apology
Isa Nichols doesn’t expect to hear John Allen Muhammad apologize before he dies tonight.
Nichols, who police believe could have been the first victim of the so-called D.C. snipers had she — instead of her niece — opened the door to her Tacoma home in February 2002, is among those in Virginia today to witness Muhammad’s execution at Greensville Correctional Facility.
The Muhammad she knew — the one she socialized with, worked with and celebrated Thanksgivings with, the one who would have been capable of understanding the horror of his deeds — is already dead and gone, she believes.
“I looked into John’s eyes when I testified at his trial and that was not the look of the man that I knew,” Nichols said by phone today. “When I left [the trial], I knew that John was already dead.”
Muhammad is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. PST for his role in a three-week killing spree in 2002 that left 10 dead and spread fear throughout Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Muhammad’s teenage accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, who was 17 at the time of the sniper attacks, is serving multiple life terms.