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Muhammad jurors recess for weekend

Life or death deliberations will resume Monday


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Jurors must decide whether sniper John Allen Muhammad will get the death penalty for his role in last fall's killing spree in Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. CNN's Jeanne Meserve reports. (November 21)
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VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia (CNN) -- Jurors deciding whether John Allen Muhammad should live or die will reconvene Monday after failing to agree on a sentence for Muhammad's role in last year's sniper slayings.

The jury recessed at 1 p.m. EST and will resume deliberations Monday morning.

Earlier this week the same jury convicted he 42-year-old Muhammad of capital murder, murder committed during an act of terrorism, conspiracy, and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in the October 9, 2002, killing of Dean Harold Meyers outside a Manassas, Virginia, service station.

Meyers was one of 10 people killed in the October 2002 sniper killings. Three people were wounded but survived the attacks.

Muhammad could face the death penalty on two of the convictions; capital murder and murder committed in an act of terrorism.

Prosecutors argued that Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo -- Muhammad's alleged accomplice currently on trial in nearby Chesapeake -- acted as a team, with Malvo as the trigger man in most of last year's sniper shootings.

Malvo, 18, is on trial for the October 14, 2002, slaying of Linda Franklin in the parking lot of a Fairfax, Virginia store. Malvo has pleaded not guilty and his lawyers argue that he was brainwashed by Muhammad.

Judge urges continued deliberations

The jury is deciding whether Muhammad should be sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. A death sentence would require a unanimous decision.

The jury's decision will serve as a recommendation, which the judge can then use to impose a sentence. The judge can reduce the recommended sentence but not increase it. Millette is expected to follow the jury's decision.

Before recessing, jurors asked Millette two questions: What to do if they could not reach a unanimous decision, and if deliberations could continue Tuesday if needed.

Responding to the first question, Millette said after six weeks of trial but only a few hours of deliberations it would be too early for jurors to decide they could not reach a unanimous decision.

Millette also said deliberations could continue Tuesday if needed. Earlier, the judge had said there would be no proceedings in the trial that day because one juror could not be there because of medical reasons.

Millette said at the start of the trial there would be no proceedings Wednesday through Friday of Thanksgiving week.

On Thursday prosecutors asked the jury to sentence Muhammad to death after defense lawyers tried to humanize their client by showing his home movies.

Assistant prosecutor James Willett said the friendly, smiling Muhammad jurors saw in the movies "is already dead." Prosecutor Paul Ebert said life means little to Muhammad.

"The death penalty is preserved for the worst of the worse," he said, pointing at Muhammad. "That man is the worst of the worse. He knows it, and he knows I know it."

Muhammad's defense pleaded with jurors to spare his life.

"I'm scared to death," attorney Jonathan Shapiro said. "I feel the full weight of this man's life in my hands and I [know] you feel the same way.


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