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John Allen Muhammad's lawyers argued before the State Supreme Court on Tuesday that the convicted sniper cannot be sentenced to death under a Virginia law because he did not pull the trigger in the October 2002 killing spree.

Muhammad was sentenced to die after being convicted of two counts of capital murder last year in the shooting of Dean Harold Meyers near Manassas. Prosecutors had argued that Muhammad and cohort Lee Boyd Malvo formed a sniper team and were thus equally culpable -- even though Malvo said he pulled the trigger.

Defense lawyer Peter Greenspun contended that Virginia law allows the death penalty only for the triggerman in such cases and that Muhammad should receive a life sentence instead.

The court is expected to rule on the appeal in January.