RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Lawyers for sniper mastermind John Allen Muhammad are asking a federal appeals court in Virginia to toss out his conviction and death sentence.I'm less concerned with the errors by his attorneys and, from the cases I've read, judges are loath to overturn judges on procedural grounds in all but the most egregious cases. Prosecutorial misconduct, however, is in the news right now thanks to the nitwits who botched Sen. Ted Stevens' case.
On appeal, Muhammad claims prosecutors withheld crucial evidence. He also alleges errors by his court-appointed attorneys and the trial judge.
I'm not familiar with the Muhammad/Malvo proceedings, but hopefully charges from other murders can be pursued if he gets off. That said, he should be freed (on this charge) if his allegations are true.
Without the spectre of convictions being overturned for violating defendants' rights, prosecutors have little incentive to abide by the rules.
John Allen Muhammad deserves to die, but only after being convicted at a fair trial. To many, this distinction may seem unimportant or even insulting, but the rights of defendants--even guilty ones--must be respected. Proper prosecutorial procedure is essential to a fair criminal justice system.