Attorneys for sniper John Allen Muhammad, mastermind of the terrifying 2002 Washington area shooting spree, asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to halt their client's execution, saying he was paranoid and delusional during his trial.A bit of irony here in that the same week that Muhammad's asking for leniecy, an alleged serial killer by the name of Anthony Sowell is making news. Regardless, the state-sanctioned murder is always wrong, even when it comes to the likes of John Allen Muhammad.
Muhammad, 48, who teamed up with Lee Boyd Malvo, now 24, in a series of random shootings that left 10 people dead, suffers from mental illness and brain damage caused partly by childhood beatings, defense attorney Jonathan P. Sheldon and others on the defense team wrote.
As he prepared for his 2003 trial, Muhammad was "amnesic of the events surrounding the crimes" and thought he was being framed in an elaborate scheme, the attorneys wrote. He believed that he was a prophet and said Malvo discovered an herbal cure for AIDS. He also said the military had trained him in "urban warfare" at "secret schools." The attorneys said that because of Muhammad's brain damage, he has trouble following a logical line of thought and "lacks sufficient ability to distinguish truth from falsity."
The argument to the Supreme Court contends that attorneys Peter D. Greenspun and Jonathan Shapiro were ineffective because they failed to object to Muhammad's demand to represent himself at trial. Had the pair argued that Muhammad's mental problems made him unfit to present his own defense, there is a "reasonable probability" that the judge would have found Muhammad incompetent to stand trial altogether, Sheldon wrote.