Nov. 10, 2009 -- Just after 9 p.m. this evening -- seven years and 12 days after he was captured and later charged with orchestrating a cold-blooded shooting spree, that killed 10 people in 2002 and terrorized the Washington, D.C., area for weeks, John Allen Muhammad, the convicted so-called D.C. sniper, was put to death by the state of Virginia.
He was killed by lethal injection, at Greensville Correctional Center, about an hour south of Richmond after Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, as expected, declined to grant a request to commute the sentence to life in prison.
He was pronounced dead at 9:11 p.m., prison spokesman Larry Traylor told reporters. He said he didn't hear Muhammad utter a word the entire time. When asked if he had any last words, Traylor said Muhammad, "did not even look at us or acknowledge us."
The execution was witnessed by several relatives of the victims of the killings, which were carried out apparently at random over a three-week period in October 2002.
"He died very peacefully, much more so than most of his victims," said Prince William County Prosecutor Paul Ebert, who tried Muhammad and witnessed the execution.
"I felt a sense of closure and I hope that they did, too," Ebert said about the families of the victims.
On Monday, Muhammad, who was 48, exhausted his legal appeals when the Supreme Court declined to intervene.
Several unidentified family members of Muhammad had slipped in to see him earlier in the afternoon, prison officials said.
Families of those killed saw no reason to showmercy for the man who they say showed no mercy himself, and using a Bushmaster rifle, seemed to target Americana itself in the lives he took: A child shot at a middle school, shoppers gunned down at the grocery store, at local malls, while they cut their grass and pumped gas.
Muhammad was sentenced to death for the killing of Dean Harold Meyers at a Virginia gas station. His teenage accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, is serving a life sentence. The pair was convicted of six other murders in Maryland, but Muhammad was executed because prosecutors agreed to let Virginia, which, unlike Maryland, allows capital punishment, try the pair first.
Virginia's protocol for the death penalty is mandated using precise clockwork. The last meal, selected from anything on the prison menu over the last 28 days, had to be served "no later than four hours prior to the execution." Muhammad asked that officals keep private what he ate.
Muhammad was brought into the death chamber at 8:58 p.m., according to TV pool reporter Larry Burkett who witnessed the execution. Curtains separating him from witnesses were open as he was restrained on the table. The curtains closed briefly as IV lines were inserted, then reopened at 9:06 p.m., Burkett said. At 9:07 p.m., Muhammad began twitching, indicating the IV was being administered, Burkett reported. It was a lethal cocktail of three drugs: Thiopental Sodium to induce unconsciousness, Pancuronium Bromide to stop breathing and the third and final injection, Potassium Chloride, to stop the heart. At 9:08 p.m., Burkett said Muhammad became motionless, and was pronounced dead three minutes later.
Muhammad was the 340th person executed in the state since 1908.