The decision came after two days of surreal courtroom encounters between the accused and his accusers.
Muhammad’s defense team had been admonished for coaching him during his brief stint representing himself, and Muhammad himself often appeared confused about points of law.
“I don’t see what this has to do with my case,” he repeatedly complained when objecting without success to testimony by expert witnesses and others attempting to link him to shootings other than the one he is on trial for here — the Oct. 9, 2002, slaying of Dean H. Meyers.
Muhammad, a 42-year-old Gulf War veteran, has pleaded not guilty to two charges of capital murder, conspiracy and a weapons offense in the slaying of Meyers, a civil engineer gunned down at a Manassas service station on his way home from work. If the jury convicts Muhammad of capital murder, they will have only two options for punishing him: death or life in prison without parole.
Later in the morning, Muhammad’s accused accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, briefly appeared in court to be identified by a prosecution witness.
Muhammad, wearing the same mismatched suit he does each day, strode into court carrying a bulging file and took his seat at the defense table. On Tuesday and this morning as the trial resumed, as many as 10 deputies armed with 9mm Glock pistols stood guard inside the courtroom.
In his time representing himself, Muhammad appeared calm and confident. He was a man of little gesture, preferring usually to keep his hands clasped in front of him. In the often surreal drama of accused man cross-examining survivors and witnesses, the twice-divorced Louisiana native was polite to the point of obsequiousness, addressing everyone as “sir” or “ma’am,” thanking each person even as their testimony implicated him and asking shaken witnesses if they were “okay” or “need a break” before beginning his cross examination.