Virginia gov denies clemency for sniper John Allen Muhammad, clearing the way for execution

Virginia’s governor denied clemency Tuesday for sniper John Allen Muhammad, clearing the way for him to be executed for the attacks that terrorized the nation’s capital region for three weeks in 2002.

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia’s governor denied clemency Tuesday for sniper John Allen Muhammad, clearing the way for him to be executed for the attacks that terrorized the nation’s capital region for three weeks in 2002.

Muhammad is set to die by injection Tuesday night at Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt. His attorneys had asked Gov. Tim Kaine to commute his sentence to life in prison because they say he is mentally ill. The U.S. Supreme Court turned down his final appeal.

“I find no compelling reason to set aside the sentence that was recommended by the jury and then imposed and affirmed by the courts,” Kaine, who is known for carefully considering death penalty cases, said in a statement. “Accordingly, I decline to intervene.”

Muhammad was sentenced to death for killing Dean Harold Meyers at a Manassas gas station during a three-week spree that left 10 dead across Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

The shootings unleashed a climate of terror across the Washington region, with victims gunned down while doing everyday chores like shopping or pumping gas. People stayed indoors. Those who had to go outside weaved as they walked or bobbed their heads to make themselves less of a target.

On Oct. 24, 2002, police captured Muhammad and his teenage accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo as they slept at a Maryland rest stop in a car they had outfitted so a shooter could hide in the trunk and fire through a hole in the body of the vehicle. Malvo is serving a life sentence in Virginia.

Muhammad and Malvo also were suspected of fatal shootings in other states, including Louisiana, Alabama and Arizona.

The motive for the shootings remains murky. Malvo said Muhammad wanted to use the plot to extort $10 million from the government to set up a camp in Canada where homeless children would be trained as terrorists. But Muhammad’s ex-wife has said she believes the attacks were a smoke screen for his plan to kill her and regain custody of their three children.

For the families of those killed, the day is a long time coming.

Cheryll Witz is one of several victims’ relatives who were going to watch the execution. Malvo confessed that, at Muhammad’s direction, he shot her father, Jerry Taylor, on a Tucson, Arizona, golf course in March 2002.

“He basically watched my dad breathe his last breath,” she said. “Why shouldn’t I watch his last breath?”

Death penalty opponents planned vigils across the state, and some were headed for Jarratt, about an hour south of Richmond, for the execution.

Beth Panilaitis, executive director of Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said those who planned to protest understand the fear that gripped the community, and the nation, during the attacks.

“The greater metro area and the citizens of Virginia have been safe from this crime for seven years,” Panilaitis said. “Incarceration has worked and life without the possibility of parole has and will continue to keep the people of Virginia safe.”

Just Posted

Legalizing cannabis cost estimate for Red Deer just under $400k

Although the province of Alberta has announced $11.2 million for cannabis legalization,… Continue reading

WATCH: Every square tells a story: Edmonton expert is exploring Red Deer’s quilting history

Community members can bring in family heirloom quilts for documentation

Red Deer-area dads going through divorce are invited to Man Up

Support group formed to focus on positive activities, networking

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

PHOTO: Say goodbye to City Hall Park flowers

A sure sign that winter is on its way is when City… Continue reading

PHOTO: Chew On This! campaign draws attention to national poverty

Lunch bags were being handed out in front of The Hub downtown… Continue reading

Wickenheiser, Pegula reflect NHL’s trend toward diversity

BUFFALO, N.Y. — With a laugh, Kim Pegula’s competitive nature kicked in… Continue reading

Harry and Meghan bring rain to drought-stricken Outback town

DUBBO, Australia — The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were jokingly thanked… Continue reading

TV Review: A Roseanne Barr-less ‘The Conners’ is a triumph

NEW YORK — Can there be a “Roseanne” without Roseanne? The answer… Continue reading

Canadian manufacturing sales fell 0.4 per cent in August: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales fell 0.4 per cent to… Continue reading

Brian Mulroney joins board of directors of New York-based pot company

NEW YORK — Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is joining the board… Continue reading

Canadians waking up to legalized cannabis: ‘My new dealer is the prime minister’

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Canadians across the country woke up to legalized… Continue reading

Most Read