- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad will spend this Thanksgiving in the same place he spent last Thanksgiving — in a cell in the Prince William County, Va., Detention Center.

Meanwhile, his former companion, Lee Boyd Malvo, will spend the holiday in a Chesapeake, Va., jail, waiting for his capital-murder trial to resume Monday.

Heath Covey, a spokesman for the city of Chesapeake, said Mr. Malvo, 18, will be served a meal of turkey or ham, salad, two rolls, yams, mixed vegetables, pumpkin pie and tea.

Asked whether prisoners would receive any special privileges this holiday, Mr. Covey said: “I think this is the Thanksgiving special.”

Muhammad returned to Prince William County early Tuesday, less than 24 hours after a Virginia Beach jury recommended he be executed for killing Dean Harold Meyers, 53, at a Manassas gas station last year and for masterminding 13 sniper attacks in the Washington area last October.

It is not clear where Muhammad will spend next Thanksgiving.

Prosecutors in Montgomery, Ala., said yesterday they had faxed an extradition request to Virginia Gov. Mark Warner’s office on Monday, asking that Muhammad be sent to that state to stand trial for the Sept. 21, 2002, killing of Claudine Parker outside a liquor store.

Muhammad, 42, could face the death penalty in Alabama for killing someone during the commission of a robbery. He also could be sent to death row in Waverly, Va., or face further charges in Virginia, Montgomery County or Louisiana.

Mr. Warner, a Democrat, will have the final say on whether or where Muhammad will face his next trial. A Warner spokeswoman said Monday that the governor is consulting with Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, both Republicans. She said a decision would not be made until at least Feb. 12, when Muhammad will be formally sentenced in Prince William County.

County Circuit Judge LeRoy F. Millette Jr. could reduce the jury’s death recommendation to life in prison without parole, but Virginia judges rarely do that.

Ellen Brooks, the district attorney for Montgomery, Ala., said she remains “ready, willing and able to move forward” with her case against Muhammad, even though he already is likely headed to death row.

“I’ve been a prosecutor for 25 years, and one of the things I’ve learned is that just because a jury says ‘death’ it doesn’t mean that five years later it’s going to mean death,” Mrs. Brooks said.

According to a report released this month by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Virginia inmates spend about three years on death row — the shortest death-row stay of any state. The national average is 9.1 years.

“I think it makes sense to utilize the downtime,” Mrs. Brooks said. “It makes a lot of sense to do it while memories are fresh.”

She also said prosecution in Alabama would not conflict with Muhammad’s constitutional protections against double jeopardy, even though evidence from the Alabama shooting was presented during his trial in Virginia Beach.

“That wouldn’t be a problem for us,” Mrs. Brooks said. “Whatever they presented would not necessarily be prohibited here.”

Mr. Malvo is being tried on capital-murder charges in the Oct. 14, 2002, slaying of Linda Franklin, 47, at a Home Depot in Falls Church.

He and Muhammad are accused of the Washington-area sniper shootings in which 10 persons were killed and three wounded. They also have been linked to nine other shootings, five fatal, in Washington state, Arizona, Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia.


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