John Allen Muhammad—black, age 41
Sentenced to death in Prince William County, Virginia
By: A jury
Date of crime: multiple murders in 10/02
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Muhammad was one of the culprits in the notorious “Beltway Sniper” killing spree. He and Lee Boyd Malvo committed ten murders in the Washington area and three murders in the south. Prosecution presented numerous witnesses putting Muhammad at the scene of the shootings. The defense objected to a judge’s ruling that enabled prosecutors to get around the requirement that allows only triggermen to be prosecuted for the death penalty under the multiple murder law. During the sentencing phase, prosecutors presented evidence that Muhammad has already attempted to escape from jail, and when he was arrested possessed a stolen laptop which contained locations where he planned more shootings.
Prosecutor(s): Paul F. Ebert
Defense lawyer(s): Jonathan Shapiro, Peter B. Greenspun
Sources: L.A. Times 11/19/03, 11/25/03
Leon Winston—black, age 21
Sentenced to death in Lynchburg, Virginia
By: A jury
Date of crime: 4/19/02
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Winston and an accomplice broke into a house and shot and killed Anthony and Ronda Robinson during an armed robbery. Ronda was pregnant with her third child, and was fleeing for safety with her children when she was shot. The prosecution presented evidence that Winston was at the scene and his DNA was found on the murder weapon. In the punishment phase of the trial, the prosecution presented evidence of Winston’s prior convictions of abduction and robbery. The defense argued in mitigation, Winston’s mother drank and used cocaine while she was pregnant with him, and he was borderline mentally retarded.
Prosecutor(s): William Petty, Michael Doucette
Sources: Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, Lynchburg, Virginia (Press Release) 6/13/03; Associated Press 6/15/03; Death Penalty News & Updates, http://www.vadp.org/cases/lwinston.htm