D.C. sniper asks Supreme Court to block execution

VIDEO - Attorneys for John Allen Muhammad, mastermind of the 2002 sniper attacks that left 10 dead near Washington, D.C., asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block his execution...

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorneys for John Allen Muhammad, mastermind of the 2002 sniper attacks that left 10 dead in the Washington, D.C., area, asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to block his execution.

The 48-year-old Muhammad is scheduled to die by injection on Nov. 10 at a Virginia prison. In court papers, his attorneys say the execution should be put off while the court considers whether his trial lawyer was ineffective.

Muhammad was convicted of killing Dean Harold Meyers at a Manassas, Virginia, gasoline station during a three-week spree in October 2002 that spanned Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, the U.S. capital.

Muhammad and his teenage accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, also were suspected of fatal shootings in other states, including Louisiana and Alabama. Malvo is serving a life sentence Maryland.

Muhammad’s lawyers also have asked Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine for clemency, saying Muhammad is mentally ill and should not be executed.

In a 40-minute video to Kaine last month, attorneys, mental health experts and witnesses described Muhammad’s illness. Muhammad’s attorneys claim he has brain damage, brain dysfunction and neurological deficits, as well as psychotic and delusional behavior, exacerbated by the Gulf War syndrome he suffered as a sergeant in the 1990 Persian Gulf war.

They also submitted an interview with a juror who said that she would not have sentenced Muhammad to death if she had known of his severe mental illness.

The Supreme Court has banned executing the insane or the mentally disabled, measured by an IQ less than 70, established by the age of 18, and the lack of basic adaptive skills.

Kaine has said he knows of no reason he would commute Muhammad’s sentence to life in prison, but that he would review the request. The Roman Catholic governor is opposed to the death penalty, but as governor he has allowed nine executions and commuted one sentence, for a man who Kaine determined was too mentally ill to be executed.

Kaine usually waits for a condemned inmate to exhaust all appeals before acting on a clemency request. The Supreme Court could act any time before the scheduled execution.

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