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Nov. 10 execution date set for D.C. sniper

September 16, 2009

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- A Virginia judge on Wednesday set a Nov. 10 execution date for John Allen Muhammad, mastermind of the 2002 sniper attacks in the Washington, D.C., area that left 10 dead.

The attorney general's office last week requested a Nov. 9 execution, but Prince William County Circuit Judge Mary Grace O'Brien chose a day later.

Nov. 10, a Tuesday, was picked so courts would be open the day before in case of last-minute appeals, said Jonathan Sheldon, Muhammad's attorney, who agreed on the date during an early morning conference call with O'Brien and the attorney general's office.

Sheldon said Muhammad will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and ask Gov. Timothy M. Kaine for clemency.

Muhammad was sentenced to death for the slaying of Dean Meyers, who was shot at a Manassas gas station during a three-week killing spree in October 2002 that left 10 dead in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

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He and his teenage accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, were also suspected of shootings in several other states, including a killing in Louisiana and another in Alabama.

Malvo is serving life in prison.

A federal appeals court last month rejected Muhammad's argument that prosecutors withheld critical evidence and that he never should have been allowed to act as his own attorney for a portion of his trial because he was too mentally impaired.

The attorney general's office declined to comment Wednesday.

Cheryll Witz said she wants to witness the execution personally. Her father, Jerry Taylor, was shot and killed by Malvo on a Tucson, Ariz., golf course in March 2002 at Muhammad's direction.

"It's definitely about justice," she said. "The death penalty is the only justice for him."

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