Post, Times Weigh in on Sniper Suspect’s Decision to Represent Himself

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A56117-2003Oct20.html

Sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad’s decision to defend himself will severely limit his ability to fend off the prosecution’s case and its heavy reliance on circumstantial and scientific evidence, legal experts told the Washington Post.

With only a high school education, no formal legal training and little time to learn the complicated rules of criminal evidence and procedure, which favor the prosecution in Virginia, Muhammad won’t necessarily know when to object or why if he chooses to confront the witnesses who take the stand against him.

He won’t know how to keep the jury from seeing evidence or hearing testimony if he decides to challenge their admissibility. And for the remainder of what was thought to be a six-week-long trial, Muhammad’s every move, mannerism and utterance will be scrutinized by the jurors, said the Post.

The New York Times had a slightly different take:

“Legal experts are divided about whether John A. Muhammad’s choice yesterday to defend himself in the first of the Washington-area sniper trials is shrewd or will instead prove catastrophic. But most question its wisdom.”

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A56117-2003Oct20.html

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