Tuesday, May 30

Maryland Convicts Sniper - Weak State's Attorney to Run for Attorney General

A very efficient jury in Maryland found the DC area sniper John Allen Muhammad guilty of six counts of murder. So what:

The verdict, reached after four-and-a-half hours of deliberation, is Muhammad's second conviction in the case. He has already been convicted in Virginia, where he is awaiting execution. - Washington Post

The best thing that Maryland can do is send Muhammad back to Virginia so that they can carry out the death penalty he was awarded in the first trial. You see, Virginia got first crack at Muhammad because that was the only state (of Virginia, DC and Maryland) where it was believed that the state was 'man enough' to sentence the sniper to death.

Maryland's State Attorney Douglas Gansler was talking tough in 2002 in an attempt to prosecute the DC snipers first.

Maryland prosecutors say they will bring six counts of first-degree murder against the two Washington sniper suspects. State's Attorney Douglas Gansler says they will seek the death penalty against army veteran John Allen Muhammad.

He indicated prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against his 17-year-old alleged accomplice, John Lee Malvo, but do plan to try him as an adult. Mr Gansler said: "We don't feel the death penalty is appropriate for juveniles." -

Federal officials didn't believe it and this trial did nothing but prove that they were right in sending the snipers to VA first. There is this bright point in the story:

He is expected to be sentenced in Maryland in coming weeks but to return to Virginia shortly thereafter, where most of his appeals have been exhausted. - Washington Post

I was under the impression that the appeals process in VA was delayed while this dog and pony show was going on in Maryland. There was no reason to delay the proceedings, and I am glad to see that they were not. The biggest loss seems to be the money Maryland spent on this trial. Keep that in mind the next time they claim not to have enough funds for law enforcement.

On a more disturbing note, State Attorney Douglas Gansler has decided to run for Maryland Attorney General. As the election nears, keep in mind the following:

(following extracted from my March post on this subject)

Mr. Gansler did not push for the death penalty for the snipers:

Prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad when he goes on trial in May, the Montgomery County state's attorney said Thursday.

Douglas Gansler filed notice last month with the county's Circuit Court that he would seek life without possibility of parole if Muhammad is convicted of the six murders in the county in 2002.

What happened? Why the change?

Idiotic excuse Number One:

In an interview, Gansler said "underlying the entire decision was the fact that Muhammad has received a death sentence in Virginia."

If this is true, then why try them at all. As it stands, Virginia Courts have already made sure that both of them will die in jail. Maryland is now delaying the process with this sideshow of theirs.

Idiotic excuse Number Two:

"We also had to look at the law and facts and given that in Maryland, seeking of the death penalty almost always sets up a system of false promises to victim's families," Gansler said, pointing out that only five men have been executed in Maryland since 1978.

He discussed what he called 'legal hurdles' in Maryland, where the law requires prosecutors "to show beyond reasonable doubt the person was the triggerman," and show that two or more people were killed in a single incident.

"Given space and time and distance, the multiple murders would not satisfy legal definition of single incident," Gansler said.

His current excuses would have been equally valid in 2002, especially the last comment concerning the "single incident." I would think that it is the State Attorney that would inform the state that it's death penalty laws are useless and need to be changed. I wonder how well he even knew his state's death penalty laws back in 2002 since he didn't see these issues as problems back on '02.

Not for anything but ANYBODY can be smart enough to argue that any multiple murder incident is actually multiple single murders. As for meeting the definition of a single incident, he could have made a convincing case based on the following facts:

- They made one attack a day.
- Their first day's attack resulted in multiple deaths in a couple of hours.
- There was only one ransom demand. (Not one for each state.)

Sounds pretty convincing to me.

Idiotic excuse Number Three:

The state's attorney's office also considered the potential cost to Maryland taxpayers of seeking the death penalty for Muhammad, saying it would have created "an opportunity for public defenders in the case to spend a great deal of money and time on experts in the death penalty phase."

Money! Of course, this has to do with money. Thanks for telling the world that Maryland is not interested in spending too much money on fighting crime. This brings me back to a previous comment, why try them at all? How much money will this case waste? What will trying them change? For this, we have the final excuse:

Idiotic excuse Number Four:

We also had a legal obligation to ensure that in the event the conviction in Virginia is overturned that the people responsible (for the killings) are not set free onto streets of Maryland.

So this trial might be important. If the death penalty conviction is overturned in Virginia, he no longer faces a death penalty sentence. That's just great.
(End extraction)
So far, this is the only quote I can find from Mr. Gansler about the trial.

Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas Gansler called Muhammad's defense "a performance."

"It is somewhat absurd what he was saying," Gansler said of Muhammad's conspiracy theory. "He had no defense." - Ledger-Enquirer

Will Maryland voters give Mr. Gansler the position or Attorney General? I hope not. If I lived in Maryland I would endorse his opponent, Montgomery County Councilman Thomas E. Perez or someone else. Be interesting to see what happens. I would love to see the press ask Mr. Gansler "Why did you not try the DC sniper with the death penalty on the table?"

Maryland Backs Away from Death Penalty for Sniper - 06 March 2006

2 comments:

ankur said...

Thanks for this post. I have read the entire article. It sounds really nice. I like the entire concept.
Money! Of course, this has to do with money. Thanks for telling the world that Maryland is not interested in spending too much money on fighting crime. This brings me back to a previous comment, why try them at all? How much money will this case waste? What will trying them change? For this, we have the final excuse:
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