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D.C.-area sniper tries to end death-row appeal

Image: John Allen Muhammad
John Allen Muhammad said he has tried without success to stop his defense attorneys from pursuing appeals.--- / AFP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

Washington-area sniper John Allen Muhammad is asking prosecutors in a letter to help him end legal appeals of his conviction and death sentence "so that you can murder this innocent black man."

In a two-page letter obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday, Muhammad said he has tried without success to stop his defense attorneys from pursuing the appeals, and that he was counting on the state attorney general to assist him.

Muhammad told the the prosecutors' office that he is waiving all rights to appeal his 2003 conviction and death sentence for the sniper killings in 2002 that terrorized the Washington, D.C., region.

"I've written to you all because I know you will make sure this letter will get to the right people — so that you can murder this innocent black man," Muhammad wrote in the letter, dated April 23.

In the letter, Muhammad writes in the margin, "Muhammad innocent and on death row."

Doesn't elaborate on why
He does not state why he wants to end the appeal but writes that he has informed his appeals lawyers of his desires, and that any appeals they have filed "have been done against mine will."

Last month, Muhammad's appellate lawyers did indeed file a petition asking a federal judge to overturn Muhammad's conviction and death sentence in a Virginia court.

Muhammad and his teenage accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, were convicted in 2003 of a random killing spree that left 10 people dead in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia over a three-week span in October 2002.

Muhammad was sentenced to death, and Malvo was sentenced to life in prison.

Muhammad's lawyer, Jonathan Sheldon, declined to comment Tuesday.

The recent appeal filed by the lawyers cited evidence of brain damage that may render Muhammad incompetent to make legal decisions. Therefore, they argue, he should never have been allowed to represent himself, as he did for a disastrous two-day stretch at his Virginia trial.

Muhammad also represented himself in a subsequent trial in Maryland, in which he was also convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Katherine Baldwin, a lawyer in the attorney general's office who is representing Virginia in the case, wrote a letter Tuesday saying she had received Muhammad's letter and was forwarding it to the defense lawyers and the judge "for whatever action you deem appropriate."

Tucker Martin, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, did not immediately return calls seeking comment Tuesday.