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DEATH PENALTY UPHELD IN D.C. SNIPER CASE

The Virginia Supreme Court on Friday upheld sniper John Allen Muhammad's murder convictions and death penalty for carrying out what it called a "cruel scheme of terror" that left 10 people dead around the Washington area.

The court rejected arguments that Muhammad could not be sentenced to death under state law because he was not the triggerman. It also rejected claims that the post-Sept. 11 terrorism law under which he was prosecuted is unconstitutionally vague.

Muhammad was convicted of capital murder for shooting Dean Harold Meyers in Virginia during the three-week killing spree in October 2002.

The Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the conviction based on the terrorism law but split 4-3 in upholding the conviction under the triggerman rule.

The court's majority found that even if Muhammad's teenage accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, pulled the trigger, Muhammad was eligible for the death penalty as an "immediate perpetrator" of the slaying.

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