Washington sniper guilty of six murders in Maryland

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The Independent US

Former American soldier has been convicted of six more killings carried out during the 2002 spree of sniper shootings that terrorised the Washington area. John Allen Muhammed had already been convicted in Virginia of another sniper killing and may receive the death penalty.

Prosecutors decided to proceed with this second trial, which was held in Maryland, in case his previous conviction was overturned. He could yet face trial for shootings in Alabama and Louisiana.

Muhammad, 45, acted as his own lawyer during the four-week trial, in which his accomplice - then-teenager John Malvo - was the prosecution's main witness. Malvo, 21, said Muhammad had planned the attacks to be carried out in two phases - the first involving up to six shootings a day for a month followed by a wave of bombings of school buses and children's hospitals.

Malvo said that when he asked Muhammad his motive, he was told: "For the sheer terror of it - the worst thing you can do to people is aim at their children." Malvo, who pleaded guilty to his involvement in the six killings, said that Muhammad wanted to extort $10m from the government to set up a school in Canada to teach homeless children how to use guns. Malvo called his one-time mentor a coward and said the older man had turned him into "a monster".

Ten people were killed and three wounded during the spate of shootings surrounding the nation's capital in autumn 2002.

Malvo told jurors that he shot three of the 13 victims, while Muhammad pulled the trigger on the rest. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole in 2004 for his part in the killing of an FBI analyst during the shooting spree.