ROCKVILLE, Md. - John Allen Muhammad hid his defense strategy from his former attorneys, holding it so close that he fired them rather than reveal how he planned to prove his self-professed innocence in six Washington-area sniper killings.

Two weeks into his second trial in the October 2002 killings, the prosecution is still calling witnesses and Muhammad has yet to begin his defense. But some of his plan has trickled out through his statements in court and cross-examination of witnesses.

Muhammad, 45, is charged with six deaths in Montgomery County. He is already on death row in Virginia for another sniper killing. This trial, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, is billed as insurance in case his Virginia conviction is ever thrown out.

In Virginia, prosecutors argued that Muhammad and Malvo formed a sniper team and were thus equally culpable even if Malvo actually fired the gun. The Virginia Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that even if Malvo pulled the trigger, Muhammad was eligible for the death penalty as an immediate perpetrator of the slaying.

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