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Prosecutors to review sniper case statements

Defense attorneys to get excerpts that might help them

Sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad sits in court with defense attorney Jonathan Shapiro, right.
Sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad sits in court with defense attorney Jonathan Shapiro, right.

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MANASSAS, Virginia (CNN) -- A Virginia judge ordered prosecutors to review a 23-page document containing witness statements in the Washington-area sniper investigation Tuesday and turn over any excerpts that could aid the defense of sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad.

The judge also told police to review the interviews of 13 people who Muhammad's lawyers said were reluctant to answer questions to find evidence that might help the attorneys.

Muhammad's lawyers had sought the entire 23-page document, which is believed to include summaries of investigators' interviews during the sniper killings probe last fall. They argued that the judge in neighboring Fairfax County had ordered prosecutors there to turn the document over to attorneys for Muhammad's co-defendant, Lee Boyd Malvo.

Muhammad's attorneys have criticized Virginia prosecutors, saying the state is pursuing one theory of the sniper case against Malvo in Fairfax County and another theory against Muhammad in Prince William County.

The conflicting theories are "playing out in the way decisions are being made about what is exculpatory evidence," said Jonathan Shapiro, Muhammad's attorney.

Fairfax County prosecutor Robert Horan argued against releasing the 23-page document to Malvo's attorneys in July, saying the statements implicated rather than aided Malvo. He said the statements undercut Malvo's argument that he was under the older man's control at the time of the shootings.

During those arguments, Horan said the 23 pages "are replete with suggestions that Muhammad was a good guy." Shapiro seized upon Horan's statement to seek access to the document.

Muhammad and Malvo each have been charged with one of the attacks in Maryland, northern Virginia and the District of Columbia last fall that left 10 people dead and four wounded. Investigators also have linked the pair to slayings in Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Washington state.

Muhammad faces trial in October in the killing of Dean Harold Meyers at a Sunoco gas station in Manassas, Virginia. Malvo is to stand trial in November in the death of Linda Franklin outside a Home Depot in Falls Church.

Both trials have been ordered moved out of the Washington area to southeastern Virginia. Malvo will be tried in Chesapeake, while Muhammad is to be tried in Virginia Beach.


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