Defense wants book on sniper case blocked

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Attorneys for sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad said yesterday they will try to stop the publication of former Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose’s book about last fall’s investigation into the sniper shootings.

The book was expected to discuss Mr. Moose’s role as police chief in the investigation into the string of shootings that left 10 persons dead and three others injured in the Washington area in October.

Mr. Moose’s book is advertised on Amazon.com Web site as “written from [Mr. Mooses] unique insider perspective.” It is scheduled to be released three weeks before Mr. Muhammad’s trial begins Oct. 14.

“The prospect of having a book by Chief Moose come out three weeks before the trial is likely to have a big impact on the ability to pick a jury,” said Jonathan Shapiro, one of Mr. Muhammad’s defense attorneys. “It’s a big concern to us, and we’re investigating what kind of actions we can take to stop the publication of the book.

“Here’s the chief law-enforcement officer talking about what went on in the case. That should be heard in the courtroom,” Mr. Shapiro said.

Mr. Shapiro did not specify whether he and fellow defense attorney Peter D. Greenspun planned to file a lawsuit, but he did not rule out the prospect. He said he has been in contact with Mr. Moose’s attorneys.

Mr. Moose wrote the book with writer Charles Fleming.

At a hearing on Monday, Mr. Greenspun singled out Mr. Moose’s book in his arguments for a change of venue before Prince William Circuit Court Chief Judge Leroy F. Millette Jr. Mr. Greenspun said the book is one of the main reasons the trial should be moved out of the county.

“I know he’s said it’s about his life, but I bet that the biggest portion is about [the sniper case], because I don’t think the members of the community here have much interest in Chief Moose’s book except for [the case],” Mr. Greenspun argued.

“He shouldn’t be putting that stuff out there before the trial,” Mr. Greenspun said, acknowledging that the timing of the book’s release makes “marketing sense.”

When reached for comment yesterday at the couple’s Chevy Chase home, Mr. Moose’s wife, Sandy, said the defense attorneys “are welcome to their thoughts.”

“They have a tough job ahead of them,” Mrs. Moose said.

Mr. Moose, who remained on active duty with the Air Force National Guard at Andrews Air Force Base, and his attorney Ron Karp did not return phone calls yesterday.

Mr. Moose was the chief of police in Montgomery County in October when the 13 sniper attacks occurred. The first five victims were shot and killed in Montgomery County within the span of 18 hours.

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