Lawyer: Muhammad Deserves New and Fair Trial

Attorney says convicted sniper should never have been allowed to represent self

RICHMOND, Va. -- A lawyer representing John Allen Muhammad in his fight for an appeal said the mastermind of the Washington-area sniper attacks should never have been allowed to represent himself in court.

Jonathan Sheldon told a federal appeals court Tuesday that the failure of Muhammad's trial attorneys to fully declare their client's mental problems was in violation of his constitutional right to a fair trial.

A lawyer for the Commonwealth of Virginia argued that Muhammad's mental capacity was never an issue in his trial for one of the murders committed by Muhammad and his teenage accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo. Muhammad was sentenced to death in that case, and Malvo is serving a life term.

Muhammad and Malvo killed 10 people and injured six others during a series of random shootings that paralyzed the area with fear during the fall of 2002.

A ruling on Muhammad's appeal is expected in the next few weeks.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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