Sniper trials are set for May, Oct. of next year


Trial dates for the two accused Washington-area snipers were set for May and October of next year at a hearing yesterday in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

A judge scheduled the trial of John Allen Muhammad for May 1, 2006. Co-defendant Lee Boyd Malvo's trial was set for Oct. 10, 2006.

State prosecutors said they will decide by October of this year if they will seek the death penalty against Muhammad. Paul DeWolf, Muhammad's lawyer, said he does not believe that Muhammad is eligible for the death penalty under Maryland law. Muhammad has been sentenced to death in Virginia for his role in a killing in Manassas.

Malvo is not eligible for the death penalty in any state because he was 17 at the time of the shootings. He received a life sentence for a killing in Falls Church, Va.

The state had sought trial dates for early spring, but the later dates were set at the request of defense attorneys who said they needed time to prepare their cases and to accommodate their schedules.

Defense lawyers also sought a gag order to prevent both sides from speaking about the case while it's pending. They indicated they might seek to move the trial outside Montgomery County, where many of the shootings occurred.

The pair are charged in Maryland with killing Lori Lewis-Rivera, 25; Sarah Ramos, 34; Conrad Johnson, 35; James L. "Sonny" Buchanan, 39; James Martin, 55; and Premkumar A. Walekar, 54.

In all, Muhammad and Malvo are accused of killing 10 people and wounding three in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia during a shooting spree that terrorized the region.

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