Prince William County has set aside $1.2 million to pay for lodging and witness expenses for the trial of sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad.
Prince William County Police Chief Charlie Deane said the county’s prosecution team would require funds for lodging in Virginia Beach during the estimated four- to six-week trial.
Deane said Reps. Frank Wolf, R-10th District, and Tom Davis, R-11th District, have secured $200,000 for trial expenses, but the chairman of the county’s board of supervisors said it’s questionable whether the county would be reimbursed for any other costs.
“We’re doing the best we can to be as economical as possible,” said Deane, referring to lodging rates in Virginia Beach, a popular tourist attraction. The main expenses, besides salaries for the detectives, are transportation and lodging, he said.
The police department would administer the funds as it works in concert with the state attorney’s office to prosecute the shooting suspect.
Deane said there could be as many as 10 to 12 county employees and witnesses in Virginia Beach at one time.
Muhammad, 42, is charged in connection with a three-week shooting spree that killed 10 people in the Washington, D.C., area in October. Lee Boyd Malvo, 18, and Muhammad have also been linked to shootings around the country.
The county’s $1.2 million for trial expenses comes from part of its 2003 budget surplus.
Deane said the detectives’ investigative work began once the shootings did.
But even though Washington-area residents can rest easy now that the sniper shootings have stopped, detectives are still working hard on the case.
“That wasn’t over when the arrest was made,” Deane said.