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John Allen Muhammad, D.C. sniper, loses Supreme Court appeal

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to block John Allen Muhammad's execution, scheduled for Tuesday in a Virginia prison.

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The shooting spree that captivated Washington and much of the nation began on Sept. 5 with an apparent robbery. Paul LaRuffa was shot outside his restaurant in Clinton, Md. A witness said he saw a "kid" run up to the car, fire shots into it, open the back door, and take out a computer and briefcase with $3,500 in cash and credit-card receipts.

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Four days later, Muhammad purchased a 1990 Caprice in Trenton, N.J. Before he bought the car, Muhammad got into the trunk and lay down, according to trial testimony. Investigators later discovered that Muhammad cut a hole in the trunk to create a concealed shooting position.

Investigators have also linked Muhammad and Malvo to shootings in Montgomery, Ala., and Baton Rouge, La., in addition to the shootings in Maryland; Washington, D.C.; and Virginia.

Malvo and Muhammad were arrested Oct. 24, 2002, at a rest area in Frederick, Md. They were sleeping in the car.

Inside the Caprice, investigators found a .223 Bushmaster rifle that was later linked through ballistics tests to many of the shootings. They also found a computer belonging to Mr. LaRuffa, the first shooting victim. On it was a mapping software program allegedly downloaded by Muhammad that showed some of the shooting locations. A few were marked with a skull and crossbones icon.

In his filing at the Supreme Court, Muhammad's lawyer, Jonathan Sheldon, said his client was suffering from severe mental illness. He said Muhammad believed he was a prophet and that Malvo had discovered an herbal remedy that could cure AIDS.

Muhammad made strange statements to his lawyers during the trial. The brief quotes Muhammad as saying: "Things I thought would help were turned against me.... I might be on another planet. I don't understand the gravitational pull."

According to his lawyers, "although Muhammad could appear coherent and logical for a few minutes, his thinking and behavior soon deteriorated, and he often became loose, rambling, illogical, and inappropriate."

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