Sniper Muhammad loses 2 pretrial motions

Sniper shootings coverage
A combative John Allen Muhammad came to court yesterday with a list of complaints, including allegations that jailers have restricted his access to court documents in his trial in six Montgomery County sniper killings and disagreements with his attorneys over legal filings.

Muhammad was transferred to Montgomery County last summer from Virginia, where he has been sentenced to death. Yesterday, he lost a pair of pretrial motions during the hearing before his May 1 trial.

Judge John Ryan granted a request from county prosecutors to present evidence of other shootings Muhammad and accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo are accused of carrying out before and during the three-week October 2002 shooting spree in the Washington region.

Ryan also blocked a request by Muhammad's attorneys to hold separate trials for some of the six killings that occurred in Montgomery County. When the motion was first presented in court, Muhammad cut short his court-appointed lawyer, saying he never agreed to filing the motion.

Throughout the legal process that began with his 2003 murder trial, conviction and death sentence in Virginia, Muhammad has actively inserted himself into his defense.

In court yesterday, Montgomery County corrections officials testified that Muhammad has seven boxes of legal documents that he brought with him from Virginia. He worked out an agreement with his jailers that gives him access to the material, but he said prison officials give him only limited records at a time.

Robert Green, warden of Montgomery County jail, testified that Muhammad has adequate access to his records. Ryan agreed.

In all, Muhammad and Malvo are accused of killing 10 people and wounding several others in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia during a shooting spree that terrorized the region. They are also accused of shootings in Alabama and Louisiana.

Malvo was also convicted in Virginia and sentenced to life in prison. He is scheduled to go on trial in Montgomery County in the fall in the same six killings. He is not eligible for a death sentence because he was 17 when the killings occurred. Prosecutors said last week that they will not seek a death sentence for Muhammad in Maryland.