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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 March, 2004, 17:16 GMT
Death penalty for sniper Muhammad
John Allen Muhammad
The judge confirmed the death sentence on Muhammad
A US judge has sentenced Washington sniper John Allen Muhammad to death for his role in the October 2002 killings.

The formal sentencing in Manassas, Virginia, came four months after a jury found the 42-year-old Army veteran guilty and recommended his execution.

Circuit Judge LeRoy Millette Jr rejected arguments from Muhammad's lawyers, who had called for leniency.

Muhammad and his accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, shot dead 10 people in a three-week killing spree.

In a separate case, a jury recommended that Malvo, 18, should face life in prison without parole.

Malvo is due to be formally sentenced on Wednesday in the nearby town of Chesapeake, but the judge has no power to impose a harsher penalty.

No leniency

Judge Millette set the date of Muhammad's execution for 14 October, but correspondents say it is likely to be postponed to allow appeals.

If the death sentence is eventually upheld, Muhammad will have to decide whether it is by lethal injection or by the electric chair.

Defence lawyers acting for Muhammad had argued that he should face the same sentence as Malvo.

They said Muhammad's lack of a previous criminal background and the effect of an execution on his children should be taken into account.

The shootings were carried out from the back of a specially converted car.

Muhammad was convicted of the killing of Dean Meyers on 9 October 2002 and of murdering "at least one other person".

The BBC's Adam Brookes
"The entire city of Washington was terrorised by these events"


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