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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Verdict Reached on Sentence for John Allen Muhammad

Aired November 24, 2003 - 10:29   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: We have Patty Davis live from Virginia Beach right now.
As we said, the jury there has reached a decision. Will John Allen Muhammad live or die, Patty?

PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we expect to hear that in about 15 minutes. We just got a 15-minute warning here. The city here getting a phone call, and just as we're waiting outside of the courthouse, that indeed the jury has reached a verdict on life or death for John Muhammad. Obviously, we don't know what it is yet. We should in about 15 to 20 minutes.

Now the jury deliberated for a little bit more than an hour today. That's on top of hour hours of deliberations on Friday. And John Muhammad was found guilty, two counts of capital murder last week in the murder of Dean Myers. He was just about to pump gas outside of a Sunoco station in Manassas, Virginia, when he was gunned down, shot once in the head.

Now, prosecutors in this case presented evidence of 16 other murders, or 15 other murders, that was including the murder of Dean Myers, shootings and murders. And presented those to the jury. A very emotional six weeks, the jury hearing 911 calls, hearing -- watching autopsy photos. So it's been a really rough ride for these jurors, very emotional.

The defense has asked for compassion in this case. They have asked not to put Mr. Muhammad to death, indeed, to sentence him to life in a concrete box, they call it, not a pine box.

Now, the prosecutors say, no, you should put him in a pine box, because that is the only place he will no longer be able to kill anyone else.

Carol, we are waiting on a verdict, probably in about 15 or 20 minutes here in Virginia.

COSTELLO: Yes, we'll wait for just a second for the plane to go overhead, but the decision is coming in at 10:45 Eastern Time. This jury made its decision quite fast, they only deliberated for, what, 5.5 hours?

DAVIS: That's right. And the verdict in the first phase, the guilt or innocent phase, was about 6.5 hours. I don't want to postulate on why that might be, but it was rather quick, if you compare it to the guilt phase -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, Patty Davis, reporting live from Virginia Beach, Virginia.

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