- The Washington Times - Monday, August 22, 2005

A “generally uncooperative” John Allen Muhammad was transferred yesterday from Virginia to Montgomery County, where he will stand trial for six sniper shootings that left six persons dead nearly three years ago.

Muhammad, 44, has already been sentenced to death in Virginia for fatally shooting a Gaithersburg man at a gasoline station near Manassas. Authorities have said Muhammad masterminded the string of sniper attacks that killed 10 persons and wounded three others in the Washington area during a three-week span in October 2002.

During his booking yesterday, Muhammad refused to obey basic orders from Montgomery County sheriff’s deputies.

“He just does not want to go along with some easy commands with what to do,” said Montgomery County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Popkin. “He didn’t want to be fingerprinted. He didn’t want to be photographed. He didn’t want to be handcuffed.”

Montgomery County public defender Paul B. DeWolfe Jr. will defend Muhammad at his new trial. Mr. DeWolfe did not return phone calls.

Muhammad was ordered held without bond yesterday, and he waived a hearing to review that ruling.

A Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department SWAT team picked up Muhammad from the Sussex I State Prison in Waverly, Va., at 1:15 a.m. They drove him without incident to the county jail in Boyds, where he was booked and taken to his cell by 6 a.m., Deputy Popkin said.

“He did not look depressed; [he was] more angry that we were transporting him out of Virginia, back to Maryland,” Deputy Popkin said. “He didn’t want to come back here, so he wasn’t going to comply with it.”

While in Virginia, Muhammad refused to sign extradition papers, and one of his attorneys in Virginia argued last week that he should not be moved.

On Friday, a judge in Virginia ruled that Muhammad must be moved to Maryland under the interstate agreement on detainees reached between Virginia Gov. Mark Warner and Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr..

Muhammad’s accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, 20, was moved from Virginia to Maryland in May. Both men have been linked to nine other shootings, five fatal, nationwide.

Both men are charged with six counts of murder in Montgomery County. If convicted, Muhammad would face the death penalty and Malvo life in prison.

Malvo was sentenced to life in prison in Virginia for the Oct. 14, 2002, fatal shooting of FBI analyst Linda Franklin outside a Home Depot store in the Seven Corners area of Fairfax County.

Muhammad was sentenced to death in the Oct. 9, 2002, fatal shooting of Dean H. Meyers. Mr. Meyers was shot while pumping gas at a station just north of Manassas.

Montgomery County State’s Attorney Douglas F. Gansler said the trials are needed as insurance in case the Virginia convictions are overturned during the appeals process.

Family members of the victims have said they do not want to relive the pain of the sniper shootings, but added that if another trial was necessary, they would want it to take place in Montgomery County.

“I have mixed feelings. It’s hard to go through these trials,” said Vickie Snider, whose brother, James L. “Sonny” Buchanan, 39, was fatally shot while mowing grass on the morning of Oct. 3, 2002.

Muhammad and Malvo are charged with Mr. Buchanan’s death and with the slayings of James Martin, 55; Premkumar Walekar, 54; Sarah Ramos, 34; Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera, 25; and Conrad Johnson, 35.

It is likely that Malvo will plead guilty to avoid spending several weeks in the same courtroom as Muhammad, a source said. Malvo’s attorneys have argued that Muhammad brainwashed Malvo in order to gain an accomplice.

Deputy Popkin said Muhammad did not resist yesterday when his hands were placed in handcuffs or when he was searched.

Muhammad’s latest booking photograph “speaks a thousand words,” Deputy Popkin said. “You can gather his mind-set just from that photograph.”

In the two photographs, the convicted sniper tried to shield his face from the camera.

In one picture, he placed his chin on the identification placard and looked down at the floor. In his profile photo, Muhammad looked down and almost completely away from the camera.

Jonathan Shapiro, one of Muhammad’s defense attorneys in Virginia, said yesterday he saw Muhammad three weeks ago, but declined to comment on his client’s mental state.

Muhammad and Malvo have a Sept. 2 hearing to set court dates. The trial is expected to start in the spring, a source said.

If the two are found guilty in Montgomery County, a judge will issue a formal sentence, and then Muhammad and Malvo will return to Virginia under the terms of the interstate agreement, Mr. Gansler said.

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