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Sniper won't appear at Malvo trial

Judge: Moving Muhammad would be unnecessary risk

From Mike Ahlers and Jim Spellman
CNN

Malvo, left, and Muhammad.
Malvo, left, and Muhammad.

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CHESAPEAKE, Virginia (CNN) -- Convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad will not appear at the trial of alleged teenage co-conspirator Lee Boyd Malvo.

Judge Jane Marum Roush turned down a request Friday afternoon by Malvo's attorneys to bring Muhammad to the trial, saying it was an unnecessary danger to move him from a jail in suburban Washington to the trial 200 miles away. (Latest on trial)

"If you want to fly him down, the plane could crash. If they drive him, then the car could crash. I just think it's a danger to the deputies to be transporting him down here. I'm not going to sign the transportation order," Roush said.

The comments were made during a closed bench conference Friday. CNN obtained a transcript of the conference.

Defense attorneys wanted Muhammad, 42, who faces a possible death sentence, to appear at the Malvo trial so jurors could compare him in physical size and age to Malvo, 18. They said the appearance would have more impact on jurors than a stipulation by prosecutors confirming Muhammad's size and age.

Muhammad's attorneys had already said that Muhammad would exercise his Fifth Amendment rights, and would not testify at the trial. But Malvo's attorneys said they wanted him to appear as an exhibit.

Prosecutors objected.

They alleged at Muhammad's trial that Muhammad had remained in a part of the jail after he was told to return to his cell, and that they believed it was part of an escape attempt.

Transporting Muhammad is "a dangerous thing to do given his escape attempts," Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh said. "I don't think there's any reason to put anyone's life in danger, and we will stipulate to his size."

Roush imposed a gag rule on attorneys Thursday, so neither side was available for comment.


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