A Virginia judge on Wednesday set a Nov. 10 execution date for John Allen Muhammad, mastermind of the 2002 sniper attacks in the Washington, D.C., area that left 10 dead.
Prince William County Circuit Judge Mary Grace O’Brien picked a Tuesday for the execution so that courts would be open the day before in case of any last-minute legal appeals.
Jonathan Sheldon, Muhammad’s attorney, said Muhammad would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and ask Gov. Timothy M. Kaine for clemency.
Muhammad was sentenced to death for the slaying of Dean Meyers, who was shot at a Manassas gas station during a three-week killing spree in October 2002 that left 10 dead in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
He and his teenage accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, were also suspected of shootings in several other states, including a killing in Louisiana and another in Alabama. Malvo is serving life in prison.
Meyers’ brother, Robert Meyers of Perkiomenville, Pa., said the setting of an execution date has served as something of a “reality check” for a death sentence that was imposed more than five years ago.
“We’re not bloodthirsty people. It’s not like we can’t wait for this to happen,” he said in a phone interview. “But there’s a debt to society. And it’s been determined in the right way — not by vigilantism — that this is the action to be taken.”
A federal appeals court last month rejected Muhammad’s argument that prosecutors withheld critical evidence and that he never should have been allowed to act as his own attorney for a portion of his trial because he was too mentally impaired.
The attorney general’s office declined to comment Wednesday.
Cheryll Witz said she wants to witness the execution personally. Her father, Jerry Taylor, was shot and killed by Malvo on a Tucson, Ariz., golf course in March 2002 at Muhammad’s direction.
“It’s definitely about justice,” she said. “The death penalty is the only justice for him.”