- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 3, 2003

Attorneys for sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad filed a motion in federal court yesterday to temporarily block the publication of a book by former Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose about the deadly shootings.

“Moose … has strategically planned the launch of his book just prior to Muhammad’s trial in an attempt to obtain as much money as possible from the results of his official investigation,” attorney Thomas Mann wrote in the motion. He also said the book would cause a pretrial “feeding frenzy.”

Mr. Mann asked U.S. District Judge William Bennett to order the publican delayed until the end of Mr. Muhammad’s trial, which is to begin Oct. 14.

The book, co-authored by Charles Fleming, is titled “Three Weeks in October: The Manhunt for the Serial Sniper.”

The online bookstore Amazon.com has announced a Sept. 15 release date and advertises the book as having a “unique insider perspective.”

The book promises to detail Chief Moose’s role in investigating the random shootings that killed 10 persons and injured three in the Washington area in October.

The Washington Times first reported on Wednesday that Mr. Muhammad’s lead attorneys, Peter D. Greenspun and Jonathan Shapiro, wanted to delay the book’s publication over concerns that it would taint the jury pool.

“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,” Mr. Shapiro said Tuesday. “It’s a big concern to us. … Here’s the chief law enforcement officer talking about what went on in the case. That should be heard in the courtroom.”

At a hearing Monday, Mr. Greenspun cited the book in his argument before Prince William Circuit Chief Judge Leroy F. Millette Jr. for a change of venue.

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

Mr. Moose, who retired as Montgomery County police chief at the end of June, did not return calls yesterday. When his wife, Sandy, was reached for comment Tuesday at the couple’s Chevy Chase home, she said the defense attorneys are “welcome to their thoughts.”

She, however, acknowledged that they “have a tough job ahead of them.”

Mr. Moose’s attorney, Ron Karp, also did not return phone calls yesterday. Mr. Moose remains on active duty with the National Guard at Andrews Air Force Base.

Prosecutors in Mr. Muhammad’s case agree with defense attorneys that the book should not be released before the trial.

“That clearly would be in the best interest of justice,” said James A. Willett, Prince William assistant commonwealth’s attorney. “I would think that would be the first priority of a law enforcement officer.”

Chief Moose acted as the public face of the three-week search for the snipers — holding daily TV briefings to tell residents about the investigation and to plead with the snipers to stop the shootings. He was praised for his leadership after Mr. Muhammad and fellow suspect Lee Boyd Malvo were arrested.

Mr. Moose was promised $174,000 for the book and has sold the movie rights to the story for a reported $4,250.

The book was opposed by Montgomery County’s Ethics Commission, which ruled that the former chief could not profit from his “prestige of office.”

Mr. Moose appealed the ruling in county court in May, then resigned from his job June 28. He also has filed a federal lawsuit stating that the ruling interfered with his First Amendment right to free speech. Mr. Mann’s motion on behalf of Mr. Muhammad yesterday was filed in that case.

Mr. Muhammad, 42, will go on trial for the Oct. 9 shooting of Dean Harold Meyers, 53, outside a gas station in Manassas.

Mr. Malvo, 18, is being tried for the Oct. 14 shooting of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, 47, outside the Home Depot in Falls Church. The trial was moved Wednesday from Fairfax County to the southeastern Virginia city of Chesapeake and is to begin Nov. 10.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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