The last thoughts of Washington-area sniper John Allen Muhammad are contained in a letter that his relatives had said would be read publicly Wednesday but which was kept under wraps instead.
Muhammad, 48, remained silent in the execution chamber in Jarratt, Va., on Tuesday night when asked if he wanted to share any final words. Instead, he had given his family a document that he wanted to be made public, and relatives had planned to read it at a news conference Wednesday.
But an attorney for the Muhammad family said that neither the letter nor details about its contents would be disclosed, at least for now.
"We have a letter," the attorney, Charlene Patterson, told reporters at a Richmond hotel. "Right now, we're not prepared to disclose anything in that letter because it would be extremely inappropriate at this time.
"Based on the emotional climate ... the family is not comfortable disclosing any details," she added.
Tuesday evening Ronald Norman, a brother-in-law of Muhammad, told The Baltimore Sun that the final letter would be released at noon the next day at the hotel.
Norman attended the news conference and stood beside Patterson, but he did not speak. Also present were Vincent Hutchinson, identified as the fiance of Muhammad's ex-wife Carol Williams, and a sister of Williams'.
One of Muhammad's lawyers confirmed that his client requested that the letter be shared. "He said he wanted it read as a statement after his demise," said Baltimore attorney J. Wyndal Gordon. But according to Gordon, another lawyer for Muhammad, Jonathan Sheldon, argued that it would not be "favorable" to release it.
Gordon, who described himself as a "trusted confidant" of Muhammad, said he had not seen the letter and does not know what it says. He said he was not privy to Sheldon's reasoning. Sheldon did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.
Eight of Muhammad's family members, including his 27-year-old son, Lindbergh, traveled to Virginia from Louisiana for the execution, Norman said. Muhammad grew up in Baton Rouge, and family members still live there.
"We're going to go home," Patterson said. "Maybe at a later date, we'll be prepared to talk more about that." She declined to answer questions from reporters.
Muhammad felt no remorse for the string of 10 fatal sniper shootings that terrorized the Washington region in October 2002, Gordon said, because he maintained his innocence.
Muhammad was sentenced to death for the murder of Dean Harold Meyers, who was shot in the head after refueling his car at a gas station in Manassas, Va., on Oct. 7, 2002.
Muhammad's then-teenage accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, now 24, is serving a sentence of life without parole at a Virginia prison.