TV Wants in on Sniper Trial


A coalition of media and media advocates has asked the Prince William County Court trying accused D.C.-area sniper John Allen Muhammad to open the courtroom to radio and TV coverage.

Muhammad and John Lee Malvo are accused of killing 10 and seriously wounding three others in the Washington suburbs in a month-long spree.

The Radio-Television News Directors Association noted that Virginia law permits such coverage at both trial and appellate levels. With RTNDA in the petition were networks CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, Court TV and Fox News; local outlets WTOP-AM, WMAL-AM, WRC-TV, WUSA(TV), WJLA-TV, WTTG(TV) and Newschannel 8; and advocacy groups the Virginia Association of Broadcasters, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and Society of Professional Journalists. Court TV also said it wants to cover the trial. "This is one trial the entire American public should be able to see," a spokeswoman said.

"The October 2002 shooting deaths profoundly affected the residents of the Washington area, as well as those in several other states," said RTNDA President Barbara Cochran. "Citizens deserve the opportunity to see and hear these important court proceedings for themselves."

The petition suggests a pool arrangement to minimize obtrusiveness. Prince William County permitted the trial of John Wayne Bobbitt to be televised in 1994.