Facing a Virginia criminal charge is never easy.
How can a Fairfax Virginia criminal lawyer help you?
Like all other places in the states Fairfax County Virginia is also a place where you will find an average crime rate. There are many types of crimes which take place every day. If by any chance you are part of a crime scene, it is time you take help from professionals. Solving a criminal case is not an easy task. Solving a case without legal help is impossible. You cannot just go to the court and do all the paperwork on your own. You need a legal adviser and an expert of Virginia criminal law. You need a professional Fairfax Virginia criminal lawyer. The SRIS law group has the team of lawyers who are expert in dealing with criminal cases. These lawyers are dedicated, and they give personal attention to the case they deal. You will be happy to choose us. These Our criminal lawyers will help you deal with every criminal case. No matter it is small petty larceny or a murder.
What can a criminal lawyer do?
A criminal lawyer is a key to winning the case. He is the key to your defence against the criminals. A criminal lawyer can study the case like no other. He is an expert in criminal law. He knows how to gather evidence and how to present the case to the court. He knows how to ask questions from the other party. He knows what questions to ask depending on the type of crime. Only a lawyer can prepare and file a case in the court which will help you win and get justice.
Dealing with a crime may not be as easy as you think. Preparing the court papers and legal documents is a hectic task. It also needs special education and experience. You can never prepare these legal documents. It is why you need professional and legal help. Many people think that they can get justice without the lawyer. It is not possible. For example, if you are dealing with a property fraud case, you may not know how to put the file together. It is the work of a criminal defence lawyer.
Look for a professional criminal attorney
There are hundreds of lawyers in Fairfax Virginia. You should not get help from a lawyer who just started his career. Solving a murder case is not for beginners. You must take help from an expert, professional lawyer who has been in business for many years. The lawyers are all professional and have years of experience in dealing with criminal cases in Virginia. These lawyers know the laws of the state. They know how to handle a case. When you tell your story, lawyers already have a solution to it. The lawyers work fast because they know how important it is to get justice for a crime against you. Also, they do not charge you a high fee. It is why hiring a professional Fairfax Virginia criminal lawyer is vital. Only a professional lawyer will file your lawsuit in time.
THE FOLLOWING ARE SOME OF THE LAWS:
- § 18.2-405. What constitutes a riot; punishment.
Any unlawful use, by three or more persons acting together, of force or violence which seriously jeopardizes the public safety, peace or order is riot.
Every person convicted of participating in any riot shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
If such person carried, at the time of such riot, any firearm or other deadly or dangerous weapon, he shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony.
- § 18.2-404. Obstructing free passage of others.
Any person or persons who in any public place or on any private property open to the public unreasonably or unnecessarily obstructs the free passage of other persons to and from or within such place or property and who shall fail or refuse to cease such obstruction or move on when requested to do so by the owner or lessee or agent or employee of such owner or lessee or by a duly authorized law-enforcement officer shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit lawful picketing.
The following is a case that is illustrative of a case:
In these appeals, we consider two capital murder convictions and two death sentences imposed upon John Allen Muhammad (“Muhammad”), along with his convictions for conspiracy to commit capital murder and the illegal use of a firearm in the commission of murder. This prosecution arose from the investigation of a series of sixteen shootings, including ten murders that occurred in Alabama, Louisiana, Maryland, Washington, D. C., and Virginia over a 47-day period from September 5 to October 22, 2002. For the reasons discussed herein, the judgment of the trial court and the sentences of death will be affirmed.
- Facts and Proceedings Below
On the morning of Wednesday, October 9, 2002, Dean H. Meyers (“Meyers”) was shot and killed while fueling his car at the Sunoco gas station on Sudley Road in Manassas, Virginia. Meyers was shot in the head by a single bullet. The bullet entered behind his left ear, where it fragmented into multiple small pieces. The bullet fragments shattered the temporal bone and the fragments of bullet and bone then traveled through his brain and caused multiple fractures of his skull. This gunshot wound was consistent with injuries from a bullet fired from a high velocity rifle, and was the cause of Meyers’ death. Evidence at trial established that the bullet came from the .223 caliber Bushmaster rifle Muhammad possessed when he was arrested. An eyewitness testified that she saw Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo (“Malvo”) in the vicinity of the shooting approximately one hour beforehand. Police interviewed Muhammad immediately after the shooting in a parking lot across the street from where Meyers was shot. In both encounters, Muhammad was driving a Chevrolet Caprice (“Caprice”) in which he was later arrested. Muhammad’s fingerprints were on a map police found in the parking lot where Muhammad had been interviewed.
Meyers was killed during a 47-day period, from September 5 to October 22, 2002, in which ten others were murdered and six more suffered gunshot wounds as a result of the acts of Muhammad and Malvo in concert. The murder of Meyers was the twelfth of these sixteen shootings.
The first shooting occurred in Clinton, Maryland on September 5, 2002. Paul J. LaRuffa (“LaRuffa”), the owner of Margellina’s Restaurant, left the restaurant at closing and proceeded to his car with his briefcase and Sony portable computer. Inside the briefcase were bank deposit bags that contained $3,500 in cash and credit card receipts from that evening. LaRuffa placed the briefcase and laptop on the backseat of his car, and then sat behind the steering wheel. He testified that, almost immediately after he sat down, he saw a figure to his left and a flash of light. He heard gunshots and the driver’s side window shattered. When he stepped out of his car, he realized he had been shot. The trauma surgeon who treated him testified that LaRuffa was shot six times: once in the back left side of his neck, three times in the left side of his chest, and twice in his left arm.
An employee who left the restaurant with LaRuffa, Paul B. Hammer (“Hammer”), witnessed the shooting and called “911.” Hammer testified that he saw a “kid” run up to LaRuffa’s car, fire shots into it, and then open the rear door and take the briefcase and portable computer. He was unable to provide a detailed description because of lighting conditions, but testified that the shooter was a male in his late teens or early twenties. The briefcase and empty bank deposit bags, along with a pair of pants and a shirt, were found six weeks later in a wooded area about a mile from the shooting. Hair on the clothing yielded DNA that was consistent with Malvo’s DNA.
Four days later, on September 9, Muhammad purchased a 1990 Caprice automobile from Christopher M. O’Kupski (“O’Kupski”) in Trenton, New Jersey. O’Kupski testified that before the purchase, Muhammad got into the trunk and lay down. O’Kupski also testified that, when Muhammad purchased it, the Caprice did not have a hole in the trunk or a passageway from the backseat to the trunk; the trunk was not spray-painted blue; and the windows were not tinted.
The second shooting occurred in Clinton, Maryland on September 15, 2002. Muhammad Rashid (“Rashid”) was closing the Three Roads Liquor Store. Rashid testified that he noticed the Caprice outside the store shortly before closing. He testified that he was in the process of locking the front door from the outside when he heard gunshots from behind him. At the same time, a young man with a handgun rushed towards Rashid and shot Rashid in the stomach. At trial, Rashid identified Malvo as the person who shot him. Two bullets were removed from inside the store. The bullets had been shot through the front door and the trajectory of the bullets placed the shooter in a field across the street from the store.
The third and fourth shootings occurred in Montgomery, Alabama on September 21, 2002. Claudine Parker (“Parker”) and Kelly Adams (“Adams”) closed the Zelda Road ABC Liquor Store and walked out. They were shot immediately. Parker died as a result of a single gunshot wound that entered her back, transected her spinal cord, and passed through her lung. Adams was shot once through her neck, but lived. The bullet exited through her chin, breaking her jaw in half, shattering her face and teeth, paralyzing her left vocal cord, and severing major nerves to her left shoulder. Both gunshot wounds were consistent with injuries caused by a high velocity rifle. Testing revealed that the bullet fragments recovered from the Parker shooting were fired from a Bushmaster rifle possessed by Muhammad when he was arrested.
As the rifle shots were fired, a young man, later identified as Malvo, ran up to Parker and Adams. A police car happened to pass the scene immediately after the shots were fired. A police officer observed Malvo with a handgun. He was going through the women’s purses. The officer and another eyewitness chased Malvo. Although he escaped, Malvo dropped an “ArmorLite” gun catalogue during the chase. At trial, both the officer and the other eyewitness identified Malvo as the young man with the handgun who fled the scene. Additionally, Malvo’s fingerprints were on the “ArmorLite” gun catalogue he dropped during the chase. The handgun Malvo carried that evening, a .22 caliber stainless steel revolver, was found in the stairwell of an apartment building that Malvo ran through during the chase. Forensic tests determined that this .22 caliber revolver was the same gun used to shoot both LaRuffa and Rashid.
The fifth shooting occurred in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on September 23. Hong Im Ballenger (“Ballenger”), the manager of the Beauty Depot store, closed the store for the evening. As she was walking to her car, she was shot once in the head with a bullet fired from a high velocity rifle. Ballenger died as the result of the single shot. The bullet entered the back of her head and exited through her jawbone. The wound caused massive bleeding and compromised her airway. Ballistic tests determined that the bullet fragments recovered from Ballenger were fired from the Bushmaster rifle possessed by Muhammad when he was arrested. An eyewitness saw a young man leave the scene with Ballenger’s purse. At trial, this young man was identified as Malvo. Another eyewitness saw Malvo flee the scene with Ballenger’s purse and get into the Caprice.
The sixth shooting occurred in Silver Spring, Maryland on October 3, 2002. At approximately 8:15 a.m., Premkumar A. Walekar (“Walekar”) was fueling his taxicab. He was shot once with a bullet from a high velocity rifle. The bullet passed through his left arm and then entered his chest, where it broke two ribs, shredded portions of his lungs, and damaged his heart. A physician, who was fueling her car next to Walekar, attempted CPR but was unsuccessful. Ballistic tests established that bullet fragments recovered from the Walekar shooting were fired from the Bushmaster rifle possessed by Muhammad when he was arrested.
The seventh shooting occurred in Silver Spring, Maryland on October 3, 2002. At approximately 8:30 a.m., Sarah Ramos (“Ramos”) was sitting on a bench in front of the Crisp & Juicy Restaurant in the Leisure World Shopping Center. She was shot once with a bullet from a high velocity rifle. The bullet entered the front of her head and exited through her spinal cord at the top of her neck. An eyewitness identified the Caprice at the scene prior to the shooting. Bullet fragments recovered from the Ramos shooting were fired from the Bushmaster rifle possessed by Muhammad when he was arrested.
The eighth shooting occurred in Kensington, Maryland on October 3, 2002. At approximately 10:00 a.m., Lori Lewis-Rivera (“Lewis-Rivera”) was vacuuming her car at the Shell gas station on the corner of Connecticut Avenue and Knowles Avenue. She was shot once in the back by a bullet from a high velocity rifle as she vacuumed her car. An eyewitness testified that he saw the Caprice in the vicinity of the gas station approximately 20 minutes before the shooting. Bullet fragments recovered from the Lewis-Rivera shooting were fired from the Bushmaster rifle possessed by Muhammad when he was arrested.
The ninth shooting occurred in Washington, D.C. on October 3, 2002. At approximately 7:00 p.m., a police officer stopped Muhammad for “running” two stop signs. The police officer testified that the windows of the Caprice were heavily tinted and that he could not see anyone else in the car. The police officer gave Muhammad a verbal warning and let him go.
At approximately 9:15 p.m. on that day, Paschal Charlot (“Charlot”) was shot in the chest as he crossed the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Kalmia Road. This intersection was about 30 blocks from where the police officer stopped Muhammad. The bullet entered Charlot’s chest and shattered his collarbone and three ribs before lacerating his lungs. Charlot died before emergency personnel arrived. Eyewitnesses testified that they saw the Caprice at the scene at the time of the shooting, and that the driver drove away without its headlights on immediately after the shooting. It had been parked in a space on the street with its trunk positioned toward Georgia Avenue. One eyewitness testified that he saw a flash of light from the Caprice at the time the shot was fired. Ballistics tests determined that the bullet fragments recovered from the Charlot shooting were fired from the Bushmaster rifle possessed by Muhammad when he was arrested.
The tenth shooting occurred in Fredericksburg, Virginia on October 4, 2002. Caroline Seawell (“Seawell”) had finished shopping at a Michael’s Craft Store, and was putting her bags in her minivan, when she was shot once in the back by a bullet from a high velocity rifle. The bullet severely damaged her liver and exited through her right breast. Seawell survived the shooting. An eyewitness testified that he saw the Caprice in the parking lot at the time of the shooting. Ballistics tests determined that the bullet fragments recovered from the Seawell shooting were fired from the Bushmaster rifle possessed by Muhammad when he was arrested.
The eleventh shooting occurred in Bowie, Maryland on October 6, 2002. Tanya Brown (“Tanya”) took Iran Brown (“Brown”) to Tasker Middle School. As Brown was walking on the sidewalk to the school, he was shot once in the chest by a bullet from a high velocity rifle. Tanya decided not to wait for emergency personnel and drove Brown to a health care center. Brown’s lungs were damaged, there was a large hole in his diaphragm, the left lobe of his liver was damaged, and his stomach, pancreas, and spleen were lacerated by bullet fragments. Surgeons were able to save Brown’s life and he spent eight weeks recovering in the hospital.
Two eyewitnesses testified that they saw the Caprice in the vicinity of Tasker Middle School the day before the shooting and the morning of the shooting. One of these eyewitnesses positively identified both Muhammad and Malvo in the Caprice the morning of the shooting. They were seen in the Caprice which was parked at an intersection with a line of sight to the school. Following the shooting, police searched the surrounding area and found a ballpoint pen and a shell casing in the woods next to the school. The pen and shell casing were located in an area that had been patted down like a hunting blind. This blind offered a clear line of sight to the scene of the shooting. Tissue samples from the pen matched Muhammad’s DNA. The shell casing had been fired by the Bushmaster rifle possessed by Muhammad when he was arrested, and tests determined that the bullet fragments recovered from Brown were fired from that rifle.
In the woods, police also found the first communication from Muhammad and Malvo. A tarot card, the one for death, was found with handwriting that stated, “Call me God.” On the back of the card was handwriting that stated, “For you, Mr. Police. Code: Call me God. Do not release to the Press.”
The twelfth shooting, discussed above, was the murder of Dean Meyers in Manassas, Commonwealth on October 9, 2002.
The thirteenth shooting occurred in Massaponax, Commonwealth on October 11, 2002. Kenneth Bridges (“Bridges”) was at an Exxon gas station on Jefferson Davis Highway. He was shot once in the chest by a bullet from a high velocity rifle. The bullet damaged his lungs and heart, causing fatal internal injuries. Two eyewitnesses testified that they saw the Caprice at or near the Exxon station on the morning of the shooting. Ballistics tests determined that the bullet fragments recovered from the Bridges shooting were fired from the Bushmaster rifle possessed by Muhammad when he was arrested.
The fourteenth shooting occurred in Falls Church, Commonwealth on October 14, 2002. Linda Franklin (“Franklin”) and her husband were shopping at a Home Depot store. As they loaded their purchases in their car, Franklin was shot and killed by a single bullet from a high velocity rifle. The bullet entered the left side of her head, passed through her brain and skull, and exited from the right side of her head. An off-duty police officer testified that she saw Malvo driving the Caprice in the vicinity of the shooting immediately after it occurred. Tests determined that bullet fragments recovered from the Franklin shooting were fired from the Bushmaster rifle possessed by Muhammad when he was arrested.
On October 15, the day after Franklin was murdered, a Rockville, Maryland police dispatcher received a telephone call in which the caller stated:
Don’t say anything, just listen, we’re the people who are causing the killings in your area. Look on the tarot card, it says, “call me God, do not release to press.” We’ve called you three times before trying to set up negotiations. We’ve gotten no response. People have died.
The dispatcher attempted to transfer the call to the Sniper Task Force, but the caller hung up.
Three days later, on October 18, Officer Derek Baliles (“Officer Baliles”), a Montgomery County, Maryland Police Information Officer, received a telephone call. The caller told Officer Baliles to “shut up” and stated that he knew who was doing the shootings, but wanted the police officer to verify some information before he talked further. The caller told Officer Baliles to verify information concerning a shooting at a liquor store near “Ann Street.” The caller gave Officer Baliles the name and telephone number of a police officer in Alabama. Officer Baliles confirmed the shootings of Parker and Adams. The caller called Officer Baliles again. Officer Baliles told him that he had verified the information concerning the shootings of Parker and Adams. The caller then said that he had to find more coins for the call and had to find a telephone without surveillance and then hung up.
On the same day, William Sullivan (“Sullivan”), a priest in Ashland, Commonwealth, received a telephone call from two people. The first voice, a male, told him someone wanted to speak with him. Sullivan testified that a second male voice, told him that “the lady didn’t have to die,” and “it was at the Home Depot.” The second voice also told him about a shooting at a liquor store in Alabama and then said, “Mr. Policeman, I am God. Do not tell the press.” The second voice concluded by telling Sullivan to give this information to the police.
The fifteenth shooting occurred in Ashland, Commonwealth on October 19, 2002. Jeffrey Hopper (“Hopper”) and his wife stopped in Ashland to fuel their car and eat dinner. They left the restaurant and were walking to their car when Hopper was shot in the abdomen. Hopper survived the shooting, but underwent five surgeries to repair his pancreas, stomach, kidneys, liver, diaphragm, and intestines. In the woods near the shooting, police found a hunting-type blind similar to the one found at the Brown shooting. At the blind, police found a shell casing, a plastic sandwich bag attached to a tree with a thumbtack at eye level that was decorated with Halloween characters and self-adhesive stars, and a candy wrapper. Tests determined that the shell casing and bullet fragments recovered from the Hopper shooting came from the Bushmaster rifle possessed by Muhammad when he was arrested. Surveillance videotapes identified Muhammad in a Big Lots Store on October 19, 2002 near the shooting from which the plastic sandwich bag and decorations were likely obtained. The candy wrapper contained both Malvo’s and Muhammad’s DNA.
Police also found a handwritten message in the plastic sandwich bag that read:
For you Mr. Police. “Call me God.” Do not release to the Press. We have tried to contact you to start negotiation . . . These people took our call for a Hoax or Joke, so your failure to respond has cost you five lives. If stopping the killing is more important than catching us now, then you will accept our demand which are non-negotiable. (i) You will place ten million dollar in Bank of america account . . . We will have unlimited withdrawl at any atm worldwide. You will activate the bank account, credit card, and pin number. We will contact you at Ponderosa Buffet, Ashland, Commonwealth, tel. # . . . 6:00 am Sunday Morning. You have until 9:00 a.m. Monday morning to complete transaction. “Try to catch us withdrawing at least you will have less body bags.”
(ii) If trying to catch us now more important then prepare you body bags.
If we give you our word that is what takes place.
“Word is Bond.”
P.S. Your children are not safe anywhere at anytime.
The note was not found until after the deadline had passed. The day after Hopper was shot at the Ponderosa, an FBI agent operating the “Sniper Tip Line” received a call from a young male who said, “Don’t talk. Just listen. Call me God. I left a message for you at the Ponderosa. I am trying to reach you at the Ponderosa. Be there to take a call in ten minutes.”
On October 21, 2002, an FBI agent received a call to the FBI negotiations team which had been re-routed from the Ponderosa telephone number referenced in the note left after the Hopper shooting. A recorded voice stated:
Don’t say anything. Just listen. Dearest police, Call me God. Do not release to the press. Five red stars. You have our terms. They are non-negotiable. If you choose Option 1, you will hold a press conference stating to the media that you believe you have caught the sniper like a duck in a noose. Repeat every word exactly as you heard it. If you choose Option 2, be sure to remember we will not deviate. P.S. – Your children are not safe.
The sixteenth shooting occurred in Aspen Hill, Maryland on October 22, 2002. At approximately 6:00 a.m., Conrad Johnson (“Johnson”), a bus driver for the Montgomery County Transit Authority, was shot in the chest at the entrance to his bus. Johnson remained conscious until rescue workers arrived, but died at the hospital. A single high velocity rifle bullet killed Johnson. The bullet entered his right chest, and caused massive damage to his diaphragm, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and intestines. Tests determined that the bullet fragments recovered from the Johnson shooting were fired from the Bushmaster rifle possessed by Muhammad when he was arrested. A hunting-type blind, similar to those found at the Brown and Hopper shootings, was found in the woods near where Johnson was shot. A black duffle bag and a left-handed glove were found. A hair from the duffle bag yielded DNA that matched Muhammad’s DNA. The police also found another plastic sandwich bag which contained a note and self-adhesive stars.
Muhammad and Malvo were captured and arrested on October 24, 2002, by agents of the FBI at a rest area in Frederick County, Maryland. They were asleep in the Caprice at the time of their capture. Inside the Caprice, police found a loaded .223 caliber Bushmaster rifle behind the rear seat. Tests determined that the DNA on the Bushmaster rifle matched the DNA of both Malvo and Muhammad. The only fingerprints found on the Bushmaster rifle were those of Malvo.
The Caprice had been modified after Muhammad purchased it from O’Kupski. The windows were heavily tinted. The rear seat was hinged, providing easy access to the trunk from the passenger compartment. The trunk was spray-painted blue. A hole had been cut into the trunk lid, just above the license plate. The hole was blocked by a right-handed brown glove that matched the left-handed glove found in the woods near the Johnson shooting. The trunk also had a rubber seal that crossed over the hole.
Inside the Caprice, police found a global positioning system (GPS) receiver, a magazine about rifles, an AT&T telephone charge card, ear plugs, maps, plastic sandwich bags, a rifle scope, .223 caliber ammunition, “walkie-talkies,” a digital voice recorder, a receipt from a Baton Rouge, Louisiana grocery store dated September 27, 2002, an electronic organizer, a plastic bag from a Big Lots Store, a slip of paper containing the Sniper Task Force phone number, and a list of schools in the Baltimore area.
Police also found LaRuffa’s portable computer in the Caprice. Muhammad had loaded software entitled “Microsoft Streets and Trips 2002” onto this computer on September 29, 2002. In this program, there were various maps showing particular routes and places marked with icons, some with a skull and crossbones. Icons had been added to mark the places where Walekar, Lewis-Rivera, Seawell, Brown, Meyers and Franklin were shot. There was also a Microsoft Word file titled “Allah8. rtf” that contained portions of the text communicated to police in the extortion demands.