Newsbrief: Snipers may never be tried in Montgomery County

Nov. 13, 2002, midnight | By Kevin Fang | 21 years, 7 months ago

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced last week that the two men suspected in the sniper attacks will first be tried in two separate Virginia counties.

According to the Gazette, Prince William County will try John Allen Muhammad, 41, for the Oct 9 shooting of Harold Meyers at a Mannassas gas station, and Fairfax County will prosecute John Lee Malvo, 17, in the Oct 14 killing of Linda Franklin in a Home Depot parking lot.

Although five people were slain in Montgomery County during the 22-day spree, many believe that the decision was made not to prosecute the two first in Montgomery County because of a greater likelihood of execution in Virginia. Maryland law forbids the death penalty for juveniles.

"I think the federal government decided there is no soul alive who does not want these two souls dead," said Rockville lawyer Barry H. Helfand, according to the Gazette. "They put it in the hands of prosecutors in a state where it is a lot easier to get the death penalty in a case that is crying out for the death penalty."

If the sniper suspects are convicted and sentenced to death, the trial would most likely be moved to Louisiana and Alabama, the scenes of other fatal shootings linked to the sniper suspects, in hopes of foiling any attempts at an appeal. Only then, after approximately three years, would Montgomery County have the opportunity to try the alleged snipers.

The Gazette article may be found here.

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