Washington sniper put to death

John Allen Muhammad executed for one of the 10 murders he carried out in 2002

Washington sniper put to death

 
John Allen Muhammad was put to death by lethal injection for one of the 10 murders he carried out in 2002 with a teenage cohort Lee Boyd Malvo during which they targeted their victims at random in petrol stations, outside shopping malls and on the streets of Maryland, Washington and Virginia. They also terrified parents by wounding a 13- year-old schoolboy and threatening to kill children.

The supreme court and Virginia’s governor turned down last minute appeals from Muhammad’s lawyers who argued that he was mentally ill. He was led in to the death chamber in a denim outfit and flip flops.

Muhammad, 48, declined to make a final statement and never revealed why he embarked on the series of killings, which followed other murders in the southern US. His state-appointed lawyer Wyndal Gordon said Muhammad was “a martyr for everything that’s wrong with the death penalty”.

Life term

Malvo is serving life without parole because, as a juvenile at the time of the crime, he was too young to receive the death penalty.

Relatives of the dead, including of the people murdered by Muhammad in other parts of the country before the Washington attacks, crowded the viewing area of the death chamber.

Among them was Robert Meyers who wanted to see Muhammad die for the murder of his brother, Dean — the killing that led to the death sentence. “Honestly, it was surreal watching the life being sapped out of somebody,” he told CNN.

Nelson Rivera’s wife, Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera, was shot at a Maryland garage, leaving their two-year-old daughter without a mother. “I feel better. I think I can breathe better and I’m happy he’s gone. Because he’s not going to hurt anyone else,” he said. The prosecutor in Muhammad’s death row case, Paul Ebert, also witnessed the execution.

“He died very peacefully, much more than most of his victims. I felt a sense of closure and I hope that they did too,” he said.

Muhammad declined to speak to the police and has never explained his crimes. Malvo’s claims to have been in a “jihad” against America were not taken seriously by the authorities.

However, at Muhammad’s trial three years ago, Malvo testified that the killings were intended, along with abducting children, to extort money from the government.

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