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D.C.-area sniper suspect seeks dismissal of case

Lawyers: Leaks in new book will wrongly influence jury

From Mike Ahlers
CNN Washington Bureau


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Lawyers for sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad are asking a Virginia judge to dismiss the case against him, saying law enforcement officials wrongly leaked information about the case to two reporters for The Washington Post who wrote a book about the sniper shootings.

Muhammad, 42, and Lee Boyd Malvo, 18, are suspected in the sniper killings of 10 people and the wounding of three others in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., last fall.

Defense attorney Peter Greenspun said Friday that the book, published Tuesday, contains details about the crimes that have never been publicly revealed -- including information contained in a computer found in the suspects' car and an evidence photo of the Bushmaster rifle found in the car's trunk.

Greenspun said he believes law enforcement officials also leaked information that was never given to defense attorneys under Virginia's limited discovery laws.

"It's stunningly outrageous that police or FBI or ATF or Secret Service would feed their own egos like this in any case, let alone a capital one," Greenspun told CNN.

The motion, filed in Prince William County Circuit Court, asks Judge LeRoy Millette Jr. to dismiss the case. As an alternative, it asks Millette to preclude the commonwealth from seeking the death penalty, or from using information that was wrongly released to the book's authors from being used at trial.

It also asks for a grand jury investigation or the appointment of a special investigator to look into the leaks, and asks that those investigative bodies recommend sanctions against people found to have violated the judge's earlier order intended to limit leaks to the media.

"Clearly it's going to -- if not taint the jury panel -- make it much more difficult to get a jury and have much less confidence in the jurors of this case," Greenspun said.

Earlier this year, Millette ordered the case moved to Virginia Beach because of pretrial publicity the case has received in the Washington area. Jury selection is scheduled to start October 14.


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