Snipers May Stay in Va. Despite Ala. Lobbying


As the governor of Virginia decides where convicted snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo will next stand trial, prosecutors elsewhere lobbying to bring the two men to their courtrooms. The prosecutor in Montgomery, Ala., sent two strongly worded letters to Virginia Gov. Mark Warner pleading her case. The prosecutor in Baton Rouge, La., has scheduled a May 3 arraignment. Virginia prosecutors say the pair should face more trials in their state before being sent elsewhere, reports the Baltimore Sun.

In Maryland, location of six of the 10 sniper killings in the fall of 2002. Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has not taken a position on whether the snipers should be tried there.

Malvo, 18, was sentenced to life in prison without parole by a jury in Chesapeake, Va., last month. Finding a place that could win the death penalty for Malvo is thought to be a key consideration for Warner.A jury in Virginia Beach, Va., recommended in November that Muhammad, 43, be put to death. His sentencing is for March 10. With Virginia’s quick appeals process – about five years between sentence and execution – some wonder why other states should bother with future trials. “Virginia can reasonably adopt the attitude that it has obtained the death sentence and it will carry it out very efficiently, that other states should simply let Virginia do what Virginia does best,” said Steven D. Benjamin, president-elect of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Some officials in Maryland and Virginia said they expect the snipers will stay in Virginia and face additional trials there before going elsewhere – if they ever leave the state. That would mean the prosecutor who tried Muhammad would try Malvo and the prosecutor who tried Malvo would try Muhammad.

Alabama has this in its favor: Unlike in Virginia, Alabama juries need not be unanimous to sentence a defendant to death. A vote of 10-2 is sufficient. Alabama judges are allowed to override a jury’s life sentence and impose a death sentence – a move not permitted in Virginia.


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