Muhammad Convicted Again
In the least surprising verdict of the year, a Maryland jury has just convicted Beltway-area sniper John Allen Muhammad on six counts of murder for his role in the 2002 terror spree. The verdict will not change Muhammad's life in any meaningful way. He is already on death row in Virginia for his sniper crimes. In Maryland, he now will have six life sentences added to his tally..
Maryland prosecutors had a strong case against Muhammad even without the help of his former accomplice turned prosecution witness, Lee Malvo, whose testimony last week was credible and detailed and devastating to the Muhammad defense. No one, except maybe for the delusional Muhammad, thought his trial would generate an acquittal and I'm not even surprised it took jurors only 4 hours to make up their minds. Sometimes, a case is a slam dunk. This one was, with or without Malvo.
It'll be fascinating to hear from jurors what they think of the exchanges been Muhammad the defendant and Malvo when the two squared off in open court last week. Hopefully jurors will tell us whether and to what extent they believed Malvo when he offered gripping and detailed testimony about many of the sniper attacks. And hopefully they will comment, too, on the dramatic courtroom exchanges between the two men, ersatz father and son.
Already folks are talking about whether Muhammad's decision to represent himself is going to have any impact on appeal. The answer to that one is easy: no. People are entitled to represent themselves even if it is clear to the rest of the world that their self-representation is a bad idea. So long as the appeals courts are convinced that Muhammad understood the ramifications of his decision to act as his own lawyer, a solid bet, they will not come in to rescue him from his own stupidity. And, by the way, even if Muhammad had not represented himself he still would have been swiftly convicted based upon the load of evidence against him.
More later if and when the jurors speak publicly.
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