Judge postpones second sniper death penalty trial

FAIRFAX, Va. – A judge on Wednesday postponed until next year the second capital murder trial of convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad.
The trial, which had been scheduled to start Oct. 4, is now set to begin Jan. 10.

Fairfax County Circuit Judge Jonathan Thacher said too many pretrial issues remain unresolved to be able to start the trial in less than one month.

Thacher also ordered a hearing for later this month to explore whether prosecutors violated Muhammad’s right to a speedy trial by holding off on prosecuting him for roughly 18 months after his indictment.

Virginia law guarantees a trial within five months of arrest unless a defendant waives that right.

Muhammad was sentenced to death last year for the Oct. 9, 2002, slaying in Manassas of Dean Harold Meyers, one of 10 killings over a three-week span that terrorized the metropolitan Washington, D.C., region.

In Fairfax, he is facing trial for the Oct. 14, 2002, shooting of FBI analyst Linda Franklin. Prosecutors say the second trial is needed in case the initial conviction or sentence is overturned on appeal.

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