The Shadow of The Death Chamber

John Allen Williams served in the Louisiana National Guard for seven years before volunteering for active duty in the United States Army. He was discharged as a sergeant after his service in the first Gulf War, having attained the Expert Rifleman’s Badge, the highest non-sniper shooting rank in the Army. In 1987, while serving, he also joined the Nation of Islam.

Shortly after his discharge from the Army, Williams helped provide security for the so-called “Million Man March” in Washington, DC, which was spearheaded by the Nation of Islam. Directly after that he moved to Antigua, where he engaged in offshore fraud activity, returning to the United States sometime in 2000 or 2001.

In October of 2001, following the attacks on 9/11, Williams changed his name to John Allen Muhammad. He’d also brought someone back from Antigua with him–a young man named Lee Boyd Malvo.

On October 3, 2002, the Beltway Sniper began the infamous rampage that gripped the country for three weeks. By the time it ended on October 24, 10 innocent lives had been snuffed out and three had barely survived their wounds. After an exhaustive search that police remained very tight-lipped about, they found John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo sleeping in a blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice–a former police vehicle–which had been outfitted specifically for the attacks. It had been modified so that a sniper could fire from inside the closed trunk.

Found on them was a Bushmaster XR15 .223 hunting rifle with a laser sight–which was linked to 11 of the 14 shootings as well as shootings in Louisiana and Alabama–and a laptop computer stolen from a shooting victim in Alabama named Paul LaRuffia (he survived his wounds) that had been previously unconnected to the Beltway Sniper attacks. The computer had detailed maps of all of the shootings they had committed and information from the news on their victims. Just a year after the crime, Malvo, who was a minor at the time of the shootings, was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole and Muhammad was sentenced to life by the state of Maryland–but sentenced to death by the state of Virginia.

His death warrant signed this week, John Allen Muhammad is scheduled to die by lethal injection on November 10. His lawyers are trying to use all of the last-ditch tools they have to stop his death. I do not believe they will succeed. Even Virginia governor Kaine, who says he is against the death penalty, refuses to grant him clemency.

I have to ask all of those out there who favor hate-crime legislation on the basis that stiffer penalties will reduce hate crimes, since the vast majority of you are also against the death penalty…what makes you think that more time in prison will make a man think twice about committing a hate crime, yet the shadow of the death chamber won’t? How can anyone claim that more time in the clink will make a person reconsider a crime of passion while at the same time claiming that requiring a man surrender the air in his lungs won’t make him think again?

John Allen Muhammad deserves to die. So does Lee Boyd Malvo, minor or not–that worthless flab of human debris knew perfectly well what he was doing. Were it up to me, the surviving victims (to include the families of those killed) would each be given the opportunity to put a bullet in his body at his execution. That would be the only thing that would come close to being fair.

God forbid we violate his rights. Never mind that his victims weren’t given their rights; we would be uncivil if we didn’t make sure his rights were upheld. Sometimes I feel absolutely filthy when I read these stories and hear about how states either can’t or won’t give the death penalty. I feel as though the bad guy always wins when some bleeding heart manages to make a judge or jury see things their way.