Tuesday, May 12, 2009

John Allen Muhammed appeals


John Allen Muhammed, the dominant force in the Beltway Sniper attacks, is appealing his conviction, claiming ineffective counsel and withholding of evidence on the part of the prosecution. Muhammed chose to represent himself. As an old saying goes, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse." Muhammed's decision, which I'm sure his co-counsel advised against, was a stupid one. But at least, in a way, he's now acknowledging that, in the court's refusal to stop him, that it was a bad idea. Still, Muhammed is an egomaniacal sociopath, and I doubt his ego would have allowed anyone to stand in the way of what he felt was his right to represent himself. Now that he's been convicted, like so many before him, he's trying anything, no matter how futile, to get out.
Muhammed also claims that the prosecution violated terms by withholding an early police profile of the suspected shooter, indicating that it was likely a "loner," not a duo like Muhammed and Lee Boyd Malvo. He and his new attorneys neglected to mention that the profile included a brief mention of the possibility of an accomplice that was acting under the direction of the primary shooter, an accurate description of Muhammed and Malvo.
According to Muhammed, there were also letters written by Malvo in prison that were not admitted, letters which illustrate that Malvo was an active, not passive accomplice. Malvo was 17 at the time of the sniper attacks, having been taken from his native Jamaica by Muhammed. While Malvo is no innocent, it's clear that he was operating under the influence of a much older and domineering authority figure.
John Allen Muhammed was, in terms used to describe mass murderers, a time bomb. Two failed marriages, a string of failed businesses, a discharge from the Army (where he was court martialed twice), combined with the sociopath's sense of entitlement, were waiting to erupt. Muhammed was angry at his ex-wife (who had a restraining order against him) for taking his children away, and at the world in general. He had motive, opportunity, sharpshooter training from the military, and a willing and naive accomplice.
Final note: Muhammed's lawyers also say that testimony from a psychologist stating that Muhammed suffered brain damage due to years of abuse from his parents was not admitted, but prosecutors say this was because Muhammed refused to cooperate with the psychologist.

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