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Two Trials, One Murder

Prosecutor seeks death penalty for murder of pizza deliverer.

Commonwealth's Attorney S. Randolph Sengel intends to seek the death penalty against Metkel Alana, also known as Kenneth Foster.

Alana, 26, and Antowaun Lynch, 20, are charged with the Sept. 16 murder and robbery of Musharaf Shah, 47, an Alexandria resident who delivered a pizza at approximately 10 p.m. that night to employees of the Firehook Bakery on North Fayette Street.

"Bakery employees and neighbors then heard the sounds of gunfire, and Mr. Shah returned to the bakery, wounded in the chest by a bullet," according to court documents filed by Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Krista G. Boucher.

"At this point, only one [defendant] would be eligible for the death penalty, Mr. Foster," Sengel said during an Alexandria Circuit Court hearing last Thursday, Jan. 27 before Judge John E. Kloch.

At the time of the hearing, forensic evidence had not been completed, Sengel said, but he doesn't expect results to alter the Commonwealth's case.

ALANA'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY Joni Ruff, a public defender, and Lynch's attorney Crystal A. Meleen, of Lopez, Meleen and Sprano, successfully argued Thursday that their clients' cases should be separate. Prosecutors asked for a joint trial, but defense attorneys said this would jeopardize their clients' right to a fair trial.

"Automatically, everything that happens to benefit one defendant harms the other," Meleen argued.

"The defenses are not united at all…they are mutually exclusive and antagonistic," Ruff said. "It creates a scenario where the two defense counsel are battling against each other."

Alana's case is scheduled for trial in April; Lynch's case, not yet scheduled, will be tried at a later time.

"The evidence in each case will be essentially the same and will require the presence and testimony of numerous witnesses," said Boucher, who argued that the trials should be held together.

"On the night of Sept. 16, these individuals decided to go on a crime spree in Alexandria," Sengel said.

THE DEFENDANTS were driving a car they had stolen days earlier, according to court documents filed by the prosecution.

Minutes after the murder of Shah, a woman was "changing a light outside her home," when she was confronted by a man with a gun who forced her into her home where he took her wallet, money and jewelry, according to court documents.

Alana and Lynch were apprehended later in the evening after a car chase that led down the George Washington Parkway. The defendants, according to court documents, abandoned the car and fled on foot before being spotted walking on St. Asaph Street near Duke Street. Alana was found with the woman's stolen jewelry in his hand and a gun in his backpack. Evidence links the gun to the murder, according to court documents.

"Forensic analysis of the bullet removed from the victim after he died determined that it had been fired from the gun recovered from Defendant Alana," according to court documents. Alexandria police also found both defendant's fingerprints on the stolen vehicle, which was pursued after being spotted at the scene of Shah's murder.