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AP - Washington-area sniper John Allen Muhammad does not deserve a new trial in Maryland, a state appeals court ruled Monday (Nov. 5) in a sharply worded unanimous decision that compared Muhammad to Jack the Ripper.
The state Court of Special Appeals said Muhammad terrorized the Washington region in a rampage similar to that of the notorious Victorian serial killer who murdered at least five East London prostitutes in 1888.
But the three-judge panel noted one distinction: “Jack the Ripper has never yet been brought to justice. The Beltway snipers have been.”
Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were convicted last year on six counts of first-degree murder in Montgomery County in the October 2002 shootings that terrorized the area. Ten people were killed and three were wounded in the shootings in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia.
“The sense of dread that hovered over the entire community was immeasurable. The six lives that were taken were but a part of an incalculable toll,” Judge Charles Moylan wrote in the 152-page opinion.
Muhammad, 46, and Malvo are in prison in Virginia, where Muhammad was sentenced to death and Malvo to life without parole. Malvo—a teenager at the time of the shootings whom Muhammad manipulated, authorities said—pleaded guilty to the Maryland charges.
Muhammad claimed he should get a new trial because he was wrongly allowed to represent himself and was wrongly deemed mentally fit to stand trial.
The judges wrote that Muhammad “freely and intelligently” waived his right to a lawyer and that the trial judge didn’t err in letting him represent himself.
Attorney J. Wyndal Gordon, who served as Muhammad’s standby counsel during the trial but did not represent him, called the ruling “a real travesty of justice.”
Gordon did not participate in the appeal and did not know if Muhammad planned to appeal the decision.
Lawyers for the state did not immediately respond to calls for comment.