Prosecutors violated John Allen Muhammad's (search) due process rights by simultaneously presenting contradictory theories in his capital murder trial and that of fellow sniper (search) Lee Boyd Malvo (search), attorneys for Muhammad said in court papers Monday.
Muhammad is on death row after being convicted last year in the death of Dean Meyers, one of 10 sniper killings over three weeks in October 2002 in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
One day after Muhammad was sentenced to death, Malvo — who was 17 at the time of the sniper spree — was sentenced to life in prison for the slaying of FBI analyst Linda Franklin.
Capital murder convictions in Virginia are automatically appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court. In a brief supporting Muhammad's appeal, his lawyers alleged 102 specific errors in the trial and sentencing, including the inconsistent prosecution theories.
The state argued in the Muhammad case that he controlled his younger accomplice, yet it claimed in the Malvo case that the teenager was "an independent thinker, and not under the sway of John Muhammad," defense lawyers Jonathan Shapiro and Peter Greenspun wrote.
Muhammad's attorneys also argued that there was no proof that Muhammad was the triggerman or that he ordered Malvo to shoot Meyers, and that a state anti-terrorism law under which Muhammad was charged is unconstitutionally vague.
Defense lawyers unsuccessfully raised the same claims at trial.
The state attorney general's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
Fairfax County Circuit Judge Jonathan Thacher has scheduled an Oct. 4 trial for Muhammad in Franklin's death. Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. has said a second trial is worth pursuing because of the seriousness of the crime and the potential for the death sentence to be overturned on appeal.
No decision has been made on a second trial for Malvo.