Convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad (right) will not testify in the capital murder trial of Lee Boyd Malvo, an attorney announced in court today. The defense is expected soon to begin calling mental health experts who have examined Malvo for hundreds of hours to testify about how Muhammad allegedly brainwashed him. The centerpiece of Malvo’s defense is that he was brainwashed by Muhammad to the extent that he could no longer tell right from wrong.

The court-appointed attorneys for the teenage sniper suspect had subpoenaed Muhammad, who was sentenced to death last week by a jury in Virginia Beach for the murder of Dean Myers in Manassas on Oct. 9, 2002. But defense attorney Craig S. Cooley told Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Jane Marum Roush this morning that Muhammad’s attorneys told him over the weekend that Muhammad would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights if he were called as a witness in the Malvo case.

Cooley told the judge, without the jury present, that because Muhammad has decided not to answer any questions in court, he would not call him to the stand. He did ask the judge if Muhammad could still be brought to the courtroom next week so that jurors could observe for themselves his physical build and how it differed from the slightly built Malvo.

Roush did not immediately rule on Cooley’s request to have Muhammad brought to Chesapeake from Prince William County, where he is being held awaiting a hearing during which his death sentence will be formally imposed. She urged Cooley and Fairfax County Commonwealth Attorney Robert F. Horan to stipulate to the height and weight of Muhammad so that Muhammad would not have to be transported about 200 miles for a brief court appearance where no questions would be asked of him.

Cooley suggested in his opening statement that Mildred Muhammad may have been a future target in the Washington area sniper shootings in October, 2002, that left 10 dead and three injured.

“They are black males. They are whites. They are Hispanic. There’s an Indian, all different ethnic heritages,” Cooley said, describing the victims of the sniper shootings to the jury during his opening statement. “But as of yet, no black female, and so had Mildred been 14 or 15 or 16, they wouldn’t be looking for anybody else that had a grudge against her.

“They would simply know that she had been one of those random victims of the sniper, and besides, we know the sniper has a purpose. The sniper has demanded $10 million. He’s trying to get that money. That’s his purpose. He’s picking out random people, and if Mildred happened to be the next random selection, who would the authorities have called in? It would have been the poor surviving natural father of those three children, and those three children would have never known that their father hurt their mother. They would simply think she was a victim of this crazed sniper.”

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