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Maryland appeals court affirms DC sniper conviction

[JURIST] The Maryland Court of Special Appeals [official website] Monday rejected an appeal for a new trial brought by convicted Washington, DC-area sniper John Allen Muhammad [BBC profile]. Muhammad had appealed the lower court's rulings that he was mentally competent to stand trial, and that he could represent himself. In the court's opinion [PDF text] affirming Muhammad's conviction Monday, Judge Charles Moylan [official profile] wrote that the lower court fully questioned Muhammad over his ability to represent himself, and that the exchange between Muhammad and the court "revealed a solid understanding on Muhammad's part of what was involved in such an undertaking." Moylan went on to find that Muhammad "freely and intelligently" invoked his right to self-representation, and "knowing[ly] and intelligent[ly]" waived his right to counsel. The unanimous decision also said that Muhammad had shown a competent understanding of the facts of the case, and had himself dismissed allegations that he was incompetent to stand trial. AP has more.

Muhammad was sentenced in Maryland last June to six consecutive life terms in prison without the possibility of parole following his conviction [JURIST reports] by a Maryland jury of six counts of murder. Maryland prosecutors did not seek the death penalty but wanted a second conviction in case his earlier Virginia conviction [JURIST reports] was overturned on appeal. Muhammad was convicted and sentenced to death in 2005 in Virginia for shootings there. Accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo [BBC profile], who pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to the Virginia charges and received a life sentence, testified [JURIST report] in the Maryland case that Muhammad pulled the trigger in five of the six killings there.

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