On Trial: John Allen Muhammad
The Beltway Snipers


  • Some thoughts about Charles Moose and his book
  • Charles Moose's thoughts about race and the prosecution of Muhammad and Malvo
  •  Related Content
  • new The Cost of the Trials
  • The Clues That Were Missed
  • The Trial of Lee Malvo
  • Search for the Snipers: The final week
  • Blaming One Another: A look at Muhammad and Malvo's defense strategies
  • The Jurors
  • The Prosecution Strategy: The new anti-terrorism laws apply, and it doesn't matter who fired the shots
  • The Defense Strategy: Concentrate on avoiding the death penalty
  • The History of the Death Penalty in Virginia
  • Thoughts -- Pro and Con -- About Muhammad's Decision to Represent Himself
  • Serial Killers and Mass Murderers
  • Crime Forum Discussion
  • Muhammad's attorneys asked the judge to drop charges against him -- or at least drop the death penalty from consideration -- because Law Enforcement leaked information about the case to a pair of Washington Post reporters, Sari Horwitz, Michael E. Ruane, for their book Sniper: The Hunt for the Killers Who Terrorized the Nation. The judge chose not to comply.

    Original Dateline: 10/14/03

    Trial updates, several times a day
    • D.C.-area shootings linked to John Allen Muhammad and Lee Malvo: 14
    • D.C.-area murders linked to John Allen Muhammad and Lee Malvo: 10
    • Witnesses who have seen either Muhammad or Malvo shoot anybody: 0
    • Murder for which Muhammad faces trial beginning today: 53-year-old Dean Harold Meyers, killed October 9, 2002 at a self-service gas station in Prince William County
    • Charges against Muhammad: Two count of capital murder, conspiracy and using a firearm to commit a felony
    • Why these are capital charges
                 Under Virginia's death penalty law, a person is eligible for the death penalty if he kills more than one person in a three-year period. Others of the "Beltway Sniper" killings may be counted against Muhammad even before he's found guilty of them in separate trials. The prosecution's burden of proof for these "additional" murders is less strict than it would be were he actually standing trial for them.
                 Under Virginia's post-9/11 anti-terrorism statutes, the death penalty may be applied if a murder is part of a plan to intimidate the government or to influence government policy. Muhammad and Malvo's demand that the government pay them $10 million qualifies as intimidation to the prosecution's satisfaction.
    • Muhammad's defense: There is no evidence that he did any of the shootings; and in fact Lee Malvo allegedly confessed to having been the triggerman in most if not all the shootings. Malvo is not likely to testify at Muhammad's trial (citing the Fifth Amendment) and is expected, during his own trial set to begin next month, to claim that he'd been brainwashed by Muhammad and wasn't responsible for his actions.
    • Muhammad's attorneys: Peter D. Greenspun and Jonathan Shapiro. Just before the trial began on October 20, Muhammad requested (and was granted) permission to defend himself, with Greenspun and Shapiro becoming standby counsel. On October 22, he decided to allow Greenspun and Shapiro to represent him after all
    • Prosecutor: Paul B. Ebert, Commonwealth Attorney of Prince William County
    • Trial Judge: Circuit Court Judge LeRoy F. Millette Jr.
    • Location of trial (after change of venue): Virginia Beach, VA
    • Opening arguments began: October 20. 2003
    • Transcript: The Judge Tries To Dissuade Muhammad From Representing Himself
    • Transcript: Muhammad's Opening Statement
    Earlier About/Crime coverage of this case: Updates going back to last October, along with related information