26 November 2003

Sniper: Muhammad:

(1) As we all know by now Muhammad's jury has said that he should be killed. This article talks about the reasoning applied by various jurors in reaching this decision. After the case the prosecutor made a perfunctory defense of the terrorism charge:
"I think it's part of the war on terrorism," Mr Ebert said. "This type of conduct and the attempt to intimidate the government cannot be tolerated here or abroad, so I think from that standpoint on that point the jury got the message and they decided accordingly."
I think that is ill-conceived reasoning. Clearly, this case is beyond what the legislative intent of the statute; this was not part of the war on terrorism. Nothing which occurs in this case is going to effect the actions of the various terrorist groups which operate around the globe. I'm not saying the law is not applicable, just that it isn't in any way a part of the war on terrorism. He should be talking about how this case falls clearly within the bounds of the statute and is a triumph of the legislatures foresight in writing a statute which can be properly applied in all situations which call for its application (hopefully - being a politician - he could say it in a way that makes for a better soundbite).

(2) An outline of Virginia and the death penalty:
One of the biggest mistakes of convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad might have been extending his killing spree to Virginia, the only state in which death sentences are carried out more often than not.
. . .
From 1977 through 2002, Virginia executed 64 percent of the 137 people sentenced to death in the state, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Missouri was a distant second at 35 percent, followed by Texas at 31 percent.
. . .
Critics of Virginia's system also note that the Virginia Supreme Court and the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals virtually always deny relief to death row appellants, often because of procedural issues like missed deadlines or failure to raise a claim at trial.
Ah, now that's a confidence builder - if a paper is filed a day late the guy will be killed even if he is absolutely innocent.

(3) The experts weigh in. Here's a Richmond lawyer's take on matters and here is CNN's expert.

(4) Apparently, the death sentence is not reducing the desire of prosecutors in other jurisdictions to kill Muhammad. Much of this is probably just posturing anyway. Virginia will kill him before giving him up to other jurisdictions. And how many of them can actually justify the cost of a trial for someone who is going to be killed somewhere else anyway?

(5) Here are probable grounds for the appeal.

(6) Reactions of D.C. area residents as reported in South Africa and in the Washington Times.

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