Washington state

No reason to stop execution of D.C. sniper, says governor

RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine said Tuesday that he can’t think of any reason he would stop the execution of Washington, D.C.-area sniper John Allen Muhammad.

Muhammad is scheduled to be executed Nov. 10 for the October 2002 killing spree that left 10 dead in the nation’s capital, Virginia and Maryland.

“I know of nothing in this case now that would suggest that there is any credible claim of innocence or that there was anything procedurally wrong with the prosecution,” Kaine said on his monthly call-in radio show on WTOP.

Kaine said he would review Muhammad’s petition for clemency when he gets it.

Muhammad attorney Jon Sheldon said there were “huge procedural errors in the case” that he plans to raise in the clemency petition he expects to file in mid-October, and other issues he’ll raise in a motion with the U.S. Supreme Court in early November.

Muhammad was sentenced to death for the slaying of Dean Meyers, who was one of 10 people killed over a three-week period in 2002 by Muhammad and his teenage accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo. Malvo is serving a life sentence.

Malvo and Muhammad lived in Tacoma before heading east and beginning their string of random sniper shootings.

In August, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected Muhammad’s claims that prosecutors withheld critical evidence and that Muhammad should not have been allowed to act as his own attorney for part of his trial.

Judge Roger Gregory wrote in the opinion that the court did not condone the state’s actions, adding that the prosecution should err on the side of disclosure – especially when the defendant is facing a possible death sentence.

“Yet, at this stage of the criminal process, we deal only with actions that were clear violations of the Constitution. While not admirable, the Commonwealth’s actions did not violate the Constitution,” Gregory wrote.

Sheldon said death shouldn’t be allowed because of fuzziness between the degrees of constitutional violation.

“So not only was it improper, but it apparently was likely a violation of the constitution, just not a ‘clear violation,’ ” he said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. “I’d call that affirming a death sentence on a technicality.”

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