Supreme Court Refuses to Block Execution of DC Sniper
"D.C. Sniper" John Muhammad will be executed in Virginia tomorrow unless Gov. Tim Kaine intervenes. The Supreme Court today refused to block the execution.
Justices Stevens, Ginsburg and Sotomayor issued this statement (pdf), expressing frustration with Virginia for rushing the process: [More...]
This case highlights once again the perversity of executing inmates before their appeals process has been fully concluded. Under our normal practice, Muhammad’stimely petition for certiorari would have been reviewed at our Conference on November 24, 2009. Virginia has scheduled his execution for November 10, however, so we must resolve the petition on an expedited basis unless we grant a temporary stay.
By denying Muhammad’s stay application, we have allowed Virginia to truncate our deliberative process on a matter — involving a death row inmate— that demands the most careful attention. This result is particularly unfortunate in light of the limited time Muhammad was given to make his case in the District Court.
Gov. Kaine is unlikely to intervene. Although he has expressed his personal opposition to the death penalty, Virginia is second in the nation, behind only Texas, in the number of executions.
Mr. Kaine has promised to review Mr. Muhammad’s request but has signaled that he is not inclined to intervene. “I know of nothing in this case now that would suggest that there is any credible claim of innocence or that there was anything procedurally wrong with the prosecution,” Mr. Kaine said several weeks ago during his monthly call-in radio show.
Muhammad's lawyer says he is mentally ill, as a result of his combat experience.
6 of the 10 sniper shootings occurred in Maryland, but then Attorney General John Ashcroft chose to try Muhammad in Virginia because of the greater likelihood of a death sentence. Muhammad had two good arguments on appeal, but both were rejected by the Virginia Supreme Court. I especially liked his "triggerman" argument. More here and here.
Here is the ACLU's report, Broken Justice: The Death Penalty in Virginia.
How anxious was Virginia to kill Muhammad? After he was tried in one VA county and got the death sentence, a prosecutor in a second county wanted to also try him, as an "insurance policy" he'd get death.
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