Attorneys for convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad returned to court Tuesday for a third round of appeals, telling a federal appeals panel that Muhammad should not have been allowed to represent himself for two days at the start of his trial. The sniper slayings that terrified the Washington region in 2002 provided the backdrop for the argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. It focused on whether Muhammad deserves a new trial because his attorneys should have told the judge there was evidence he was mentally incompetent to represent himself. Muhammad was convicted in Virginia Beach in 2003 and sentenced to death for killing Dean H. Meyers near Manassas in October 2002. Jon Sheldon, an appellate lawyer for Muhammad, argued Tuesday that his trial attorneys failed to share with the judge extensive information about his inability to be his own lawyer. Senior Virginia Assistant Attorney General Katherine B. Burnett told the court that Muhammad's self-representation was "a very foolish and unwise decision. But he wasn't incompetent."
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