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Lawyers dispute testimony in sniper case

Statements that sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad made to investigators last year after his arrest at a Maryland rest stop should not be allowed into his trial because he was not advised of his Miranda rights, his attorneys wrote in a motion released yesterday.

The interrogation "generated few statements," Muhammad's attorneys wrote in the motion, but they said it should be thrown out nonetheless because police did not inform Muhammad of his right to remain silent and his right to an attorney.

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Muhammad and his co-defendant in the sniper shootings, Lee Boyd Malvo, were arrested at a Frederick County rest stop at 3:19 a.m. on Oct. 24. About 10 a.m. that day, several law enforcement agents began to question Muhammad without telling him of his rights or getting a waiver of them, the attorneys wrote.

About 11:30 a.m., Muhammad was advised of his rights. "However," lawyers Peter D. Greenspun and Jonathan Shapiro wrote, "such advice was given only as an afterthought after extensive interrogation had already taken place."

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And on Nov. 7, when Muhammad was moved from Baltimore's Supermax prison to the detention center in Prince William County, Va., he was questioned there for an "extended period of time" in a "vigorous interrogation" without his attorneys present, the lawyers wrote.

They argue that both interrogations violated Muhammad's constitutional rights and should be excluded from trial, which is to begin Oct. 14. Muhammad is charged with two counts of capital murder in the killing of Dean H. Meyers at a Manassas gas station, one of 10 killings in the region linked to the two suspects.

Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert declined to comment yesterday on whether Muhammad was read his Miranda rights and what he said during the questioning.


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