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Virginia court sets November execution date for DC sniper

[JURIST] A Virginia court on Wednesday set a November 10 execution date for John Allen Muhammad [BBC profile], who was convicted of murder in 2005 for his role in a series of DC-area sniper shootings [JURIST news archive]. Prosecutors had sought to schedule [AP report] the execution for Monday, November 9, but Judge Mary Grace O'Brien of the Prince William County Circuit Court [official website] moved the date back one day to allow for last minute appeals [BBC report]. Muhammad's attorneys plan [AFP report] to ask Virginia governor Timothy Kaine for clemency, and to appeal Muhammad's death sentence to the US Supreme Court.

In August, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] upheld [JURIST report] the Virginia death sentence, despite Muhammad's allegations of "nondisclosure of exculpatory information by the prosecution" and "ineffective assistance of ... trial counsel." In 2007, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that a Maryland court did not err in finding Muhammad competent to stand trial in Maryland. Muhammad was sentenced in Maryland in June 2006 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. Accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo [BBC profile], who pleaded guilty to the Virginia charges and received a life sentence, testified [JURIST reports] in the Maryland case that Muhammad pulled the trigger in five of the six killings there.

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