Court Upholds Death Penalty for John Muhammad

On Friday, the Virginia Supreme Court upheld sniper John Muhammad’s murder convictions and death penalty for carrying out the three-week killing spree in October of 2002 according to the Associated Press.

The court disregarded arguments that said because he was not the triggerman he could not be sentenced to death. Claims that the post-Sept. 11 terrorism law under which he was prosecuted under was unconstitutionally vague were also rejected according to the AP.

“If society’s ultimate penalty should be reserved for the most heinous offenses, accompanied by proof of vileness or future dangerousness, then surely this case qualifies,” Justice Donald Lemons wrote, as reported by the AP.

Lemons is among many who are in favor of the court’s ruling.

“I’ve had my fingers crossed all these months,” said Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert, who prosecuted Muhammad to the AP. “Now I can uncross them.”

By a vote of 4-3 the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the conviction based on the terrorism law in upholding the conviction under the triggerman rule.

According to AP, the court’s majority said Muhammad was eligible for the death penalty as an “immediate perpetrator” of slaying even though Lee Boyd Malvo pulled the trigger.

“Muhammad, with his sniper team partner, Malvo, randomly selected innocent victims,” Lemons wrote, according to AP. “With calculation, extensive planning, premeditation and ruthless disregard for life, Muhammad carried out his cruel scheme of terror.”