- The Washington Times - Friday, August 26, 2005

The attorney for convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad said yesterday that he is optimistic his client’s hunger strike will end without authorities resorting to feeding him intravenously.

“We’re hopeful that the situation will be resolved without having to put him on an IV,” said Paul B. DeWolfe Jr., a Montgomery County public defender. “I suspect that it will be.”

Mr. DeWolfe has advised his client to end the hunger strike, according to court documents.

Circuit Judge James L. Ryan authorized corrections officials Thursday to forcibly administer food and water to Muhammad, 44, who is in the early stages of dehydration, jail officials said.

Doctors said Muhammad could be in danger of serious harm or death if he does not get some nutrition soon.

Examined earlier this week by a nurse after complaining to officers about dizziness, Muhammad’s breath smelled of ketones, a sign of dehydration. Officials said his abdominal sounds were hyperactive, which is consistent with someone who hasn’t eaten.

Without liquids, Muhammad’s vital organs eventually would shut down and kill him, officials said.

Officials would not comment yesterday on Muhammad’s health or whether intravenous feeding has begun.

“We never discuss the medical treatment or condition of a prisoner, under state law,” said Arthur M. Wallenstein, director of the county’s Department of Correction and Rehabilitation.

Mr. DeWolfe said he was in court all of yesterday so could say only that Muhammad had not been force-fed as of late Thursday evening.

Muhammad is in Montgomery County to stand trial for six sniper killings nearly three years ago.

Muhammad, who was transferred to the Montgomery County jail in Clarksburg from Sussex I State Prison in Waverly, Va., already has been sentenced to death in Virginia for fatally shooting a Gaithersburg man at a gasoline station near Manassas.

Authorities say Muhammad masterminded the string of sniper attacks that killed 10 persons and wounded three others in the D.C. area during a three-week span in October 2002.

Muhammad’s accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, 20, who was transferred to Maryland in May for the trial, already is serving a life sentence for another of the sniper shootings in Virginia.

Maryland has agreed to return Muhammad to Virginia after the trial. If convicted, he could get additional death sentences. Malvo, a minor at the time of the shootings, would get additional life sentences.

Muhammad and Malvo are charged with the Montgomery County slayings of James Martin, on Oct. 2, in Wheaton; James L. “Sonny” Buchanan, on Oct. 3, in Rockville; Premkumar A. Walekar, on Oct. 3, in Aspen Hill; Sarah Ramos, on Oct. 3, in Silver Spring; Lori Lewis-Rivera, on Oct. 3, in Kensington; and Conrad Johnson, on Oct. 22, in Silver Spring.

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