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`A tragedy for the justice system'

Muhammad's decision to represent himself is decried by experts

October 21, 2003|By Kimberly A.C. Wilson | Kimberly A.C. Wilson,SUN STAFF

"It's a tragedy for the justice system because Muhammad is incapable of representing himself, especially in a case that complex," Zerkin said. "What cripples him is that he doesn't know what he's doing. It's enough that he's never tried a case before, he's also never questioned witnesses and he's never talked to a jury and he doesn't know how to manage a trial."

"It's too bad because he had two excellent attorneys representing him," Zerkin added.

One of those attorneys, Shapiro, represented another defendant two years ago in Alexandria Federal Court. In that case, a jury convicted Christopher Andaryl Wills of kidnapping and murder after he took over his defense. Wills later appealed the verdict on the grounds that he was denied his right to self-representation because he was unable to interview defense witnesses before they testified at his trial.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit denied the appeal.

Larry Meyers, brother of the man Muhammad is charged with killing, was stoical about being questioned by a man he regards as his little brother's killer.

"It was unexpected, a little bit surprising, but not out of character," he said after court adjourned for the day. "It's his right so I accept that."

Sun staff writer John Woestendiek contributed to this article.

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