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Sniper Suspects Could Face Death Penalty

October 25, 2002  | 

Sniper suspects John Allen Muhammed and John Lee Malvo will be charged with six counts of first-degree murder in Maryland, and Muhammed could face the death penalty, say Maryland state prosecutors. Other states also plan to prosecute the suspects.

State's Attorney Douglas Gansler has indicated prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against his 17-year-old alleged accomplice, John Lee Malvo, but do plan to try him as an adult.

The state will become the first to bring murder charges in the string of sniper attacks that left 10 people dead and three wounded in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Alabama law enforcement officials have filed murder charges against the two sniper suspects and say they plan to seek the death penalty in the fatal shooting of a woman during a robbery there last month.

The two were charged in Alabama with one count each of capital murder and one count of attempted murder in the Sept. 21 robbery that killed a woman and wounded another outside a liquor store in Montgomery.

Ten people were killed and three critically wounded in the three-week string of sniper attacks. Investigators said a rifle found in the suspects' car has been linked to 11 of the shootings.

"I think the general consensus is that the case will be tried first in Montgomery County," said the county's top prosecutor, Doug Gansler, before meeting with his counterparts. "We have the best evidence in the case. Also, the investigation was run out of Montgomery County."

Virginia and Alabama are more likely to actually carry out executions than the other jurisdictions involved in the case.

In Virginia, Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert said he wants to seek the death penalty for an Oct. 9 killing by the sniper.

Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner said the death penalty is "clearly" appropriate, but noted there could be a series of prosecutions involving several jurisdictions.

In Maryland, all executions have been suspended under a moratorium imposed in May by Gov. Parris Glendening. But Glendening and other state officials say Friday they expect the moratorium will be lifted by the time the sniper case is concluded.

For now, Muhammad and Malvo are being held on federal weapons and material witness warrants.

Tags: Beltway Snipers, Death Penalty Cases


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