The judge presiding over the second prosecution of convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad has removed himself from the case after prosecutors claimed he improperly conducted his own investigation into whether Muhammad had been denied a speedy trial.
Circuit Court Judge Jonathan Thacher, in a letter to prosecutors and defense attorneys made public Tuesday, said he is removing himself from the case even though he believes he did nothing wrong.
Muhammad was already convicted and sentenced to death last year for the Oct. 9, 2002, murder of Dean Harold Meyers in neighboring Prince William County. But Fairfax County prosecutor Robert Horan Jr. has said he wants a second conviction in case the first is overturned on appeal.
Muhammad's teenage accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, was convicted last year in the killing of FBI analyst Linda Franklin and sentenced to life in prison. Malvo also has confessed to killing 21-year-old Tacoma resident Keenya Cook on Feb. 16, 2002, at her aunt's house in Tacoma.