- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine said Tuesday he has not received a clemency petition from lawyers representing John Allen Muhammad seeking to delay the D.C. sniper’s scheduled Nov. 10 execution.

Mr. Kaine said that if he receives a petition from Muhammad’s lawyers, he will look at it carefully and make a decision, but that he knew of no reason why clemency would be granted in this case.

“Absent the filing of a clemency petition, there would not be any change,” Mr. Kaine said on WTOP Radio’s “Ask the Governor” program. “I know of nothing in this case that would suggest that there is any credible claim of innocence or that there was anything procedurally wrong with the prosecution.”

Kaine spokeswoman Lynda Tran said lawyers often wait to file clemency petitions until all appeals have been exhausted and an execution date has been set.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in August issued a unanimous ruling upholding Muhammad’s death sentence. Muhammad’s attorneys had argued that he was not mentally competent to defend himself and that prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence from him.

Muhammad’s attorney, Jonathan Sheldon, has said he plans to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court and file a clemency request with the governor by Oct. 15. He said he was confident the governor would consider the petition on its merits.

“We do not interpret the governor’s comments to be a prejudgment on clemency,” Mr. Sheldon said. “The governor has not received any request for clemency and thus would have no basis for granting clemency at this time.”

Prosecutors had requested an execution date of Nov. 9 after coordinating with the governor’s office to ensure consideration of an expected clemency petition. Prince William County Circuit Judge Mary Grace O’Brien chose Nov. 10, a Tuesday, so courts would be open the day before in case of last-minute appeals.

Muhammad and his then-teenage accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, killed 10 people and wounded six in four states and the District during a shooting spree in the fall of 2002.

Muhammad was sentenced to death for the slaying of Dean Meyers, who was shot at a Manassas gas station.

Malvo is serving a life sentence.

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