- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 30, 2006

Maryland’s public defender said this afternoon that he will abandon the case of convicted sniper mastermind John Allen Muhammad, leaving him to defend his own case in Montgomery County without legal advice.

Muhammad, 45, relegated Paul B. DeWolfe, a lawyer with the state’s Office of the Public Defender, to standby status yesterday, after a judge rejected Mr. DeWolfe’s argument that Muhammad is insane and not mentally competent to present his own case.

“We have a policy of not serving as standby counsel,” Mr. DeWolfe said. “It’s been a policy we will enforce in this case. We will not be standby counsel.”

Muhammad, an Army veteran, asked Circuit Judge James L. Ryan earlier this week for permission to present his own defense because Mr. DeWolfe planned to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

“It’s an insult to everything I’ve ever done in my life,” said an animated Muhammad. “If I’m incompetent now, I’ve been incompetent since the day I was born.”

Muhammad maintains he is innocent and has portrayed himself as a victim of racism.

The trial is scheduled to begin May 1, with prosecutors seeking life in prison without parole in connection with the fatal shootings of six persons in Montgomery County over three weeks in October 2002.

A procedural hearing is set for tomorrow.

In 2003, a jury in southeastern Virginia found Muhammad guilty of shooting, with an accomplice, 13 random persons in the region during the fall of 2002, killing 10. He was sentenced to death.

The jury found Muhammad’s accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, now 21, guilty of helping carry out the shootings, which authorities think included at least nine additional shootings across the country.

Muhammad is believed to have been hunting down his ex-wife, Mildred, who has custody of their three children.

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