DC Sniper's Attorney Speaks Only To 9NEWS NOW

9:55 AM, Nov 5, 2009   |    comments
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FAIRFAX, Va. (WUSA) -- The man coined the "DC sniper" is scheduled to be executed November 10th.

Only on 9NEWS NOW, John Muhammad's lawyer talked with digital correspondent Surae Chinn about his fight to save his client's life. 

Jon Sheldon says, "We're not asking for sympathy. We're not saying he's not responsible. He is responsible."

John Allen Muhammad is the man responsible for masterminding the sniper killings of 10 people at random and injuring 3 others.


The man we all know as the DC sniper who put the entire metro area in a cloud of fear every time we'd go out and fill up our cars.

Jon Sheldon says 48-year-old John Muhammad, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection next Tuesday, is mentally ill and says his life should be spared. He says evidence of his paranoia, schizophrenia state was not admissible in court.

Sheldon points to images of a normal brain and then an MRI picture of Muhammad's.  


Sheldon has put together recordings of doctors and jurors as part of an unconventional presentation, a clemency video given to Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine. Sheldon and Kaine met last week for one hour.

In the recordings you can here George Washington University School of Medicine professor and Dr. James Merikangas. He says, "These abnormalities are important because it tells us we know Mr. Muhammad is not functioning in a normal way. I have determined Mr. Muhammad has several malformations in his brain."

The recordings also incudes an interview with Elizabeth Young, a juror in the case who's had a change of heart.

Young says, "I just can't believe there was all this information of mental illness and we the jury was not presented with that evidence."

And then there is a handwritten rambling letter penned by Muhammad in 2008 in a failed attempt to block his execution.
Sheldon released this letter upon the request of the media.  He says it shows Muhammad is not in his right mind.  Muhammad was once illiterate until his ex-wife, Mildred taught him how to read and write.

The death row prison has denied Muhammad's requests to see his five children since his arrest in 2002. But that's changed since he was recently moved to the Virginia execution chamber facility in southern Virginia. 

Sheldon says: "John Muhammad has wanted to see his children and they have wanted to see him."

A meeting is planned before November 10th.

9NEWS NOW asked Sheldon, "How do we know this is not another one of John Muhammad's manipulative behavior?" 

Sheldon says, "You can't dispute objective scientific evidence that he's mentally ill. You can't fake a hole in your head in an MRI.  You can't fake a brain malformation in an MRI."

Out of the 80 death row inmates Sheldon has represented, only one has been executed.

There are two options that can save John Allen Muhammad's life. 
Governor Tim Kaine can grant clemency and commute Muhammad's death sentence to life in prison.

Or the Supreme Court can grant a stay of execution.  Both have up until the very last moment to make a decision. 

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