Convicted sniper threatened to kill estranged wife
THE former wife of the convicted sniper mastermind, John Allen Muhammad, testified at his sentencing yesterday that he had threatened to kill her three years ago, after the couple separated.
"He said ... ‘You have become my enemy, and as my enemy I will kill you’," Mildred Muhammad told the court.
She said Muhammad also said in early 2000, the year they divorced, that he would not let her raise their three children.
He took the children with him to the Caribbean shortly afterwards, although Mrs Muhammad regained custody the following year.
After that court hearing, in Washington state, Mrs Muhammad said her former husband stormed after her.
"I ran down the hall because of the way he was coming toward me. For me, I knew it was hostile. I knew he was coming for me," she said.
She left with the children for her home that night and did not see her former husband again until yesterday’s hearing.
Muhammad was convicted on Monday of capital murder in the sniper shooting of Dean Harold Meyers, one of the ten people killed during three weeks of attacks that terrorised the Washington area last autumn.
Prosecutors have said one of Muhammad’s motives for the sniper killings might have been revenge against his former wife and that she might have been the ultimate target, with the other attacks meant to make her shooting appear the work of a random sniper so Muhammad could gain custody of their children.
The judge, however, barred prosecutors from making that argument at trial, saying it lacked evidence.
The jury is now hearing evidence on which sentence - life without parole or the death penalty - to recommend.
In nearby Chesapeake, the fellow sniper suspect, Lee Boyd Malvo’s capital murder trial also resumed yesterday with evidence from Myrtha Cinada, whose father, Pascal Charlot, 72, was the fifth victim of the sniper attacks.
Malvo is being tried in another sniper slaying, that of Linda Franklin, an FBI analyst who was shot outside a shop in northern Virginia.
But, as in Muhammad’s trial, prosecutors are presenting evidence from the other attacks to support the capital murder charges, one accusing Malvo of taking part in multiple murders and the other alleging the killings were designed to terrorise the population.
Earlier in Malvo’s trial the jury listened to an audiotape in which he told police he pulled the trigger in all of the sniper attacks.
"I intended to kill them all," said Malvo, then 17.
The tape with the Malvo confession was played publicly for the first time on Tuesday.
A little more than an hour of it was played for jurors, who were given transcripts because the sound was poor and Malvo’s voice was soft.
Several times, Malvo’s interrogator, Samuel Walker, a detective with the Prince William County police department, is heard asking Malvo to speak up.
When the officer asked Malvo whether he squeezed the trigger in all the shootings, Malvo first responded, "Basically, yeah." Asked to clarify, Malvo said: "In all of them."
Mr Walker focused on the Meyers killing, eliciting through a series of questions that Malvo shot Mr Meyers in the head because Mr Meyers was standing sideways.
"His body twisted this way, so I couldn’t get a body shot," Malvo said.
"He went down," Malvo said when Mr Walker asked what happened to Mr Meyers after the shot was fired.
Mr Walker testified on Tuesday that he questioned Malvo on 7 November, 2002 - two weeks after Malvo and Muhammad were arrested - and "marvelled at how intelligent he was".
He also said Malvo was candid and co-operative and never appeared to be out of contact with reality during the conversation, which lasted an hour and 40 minutes.
Malvo’s lawyers contend Malvo is innocent by reason of insanity because he was brainwashed by Muhammad, and they do not dispute that he took part in the shootings. They have said previously that Malvo confessed to protect Muhammad because he looked up to Muhammad as a father figure.
Under cross-examination by Craig Cooley, a defence lawyer, Mr Walker acknowledged Malvo made some mistakes in his confession to the Meyers shooting, getting the colour and size of Mr Meyers’s car and the location of the head wound wrong.
"Lee was definitely one of the people there, but we also said a significant issue in the case would be what role he played," Mr Cooley said after court on Tuesday. "He accepts far too much responsibility."
On the tape, Malvo said that the shootings were done for money, but that he and Muhammad were not desperate. Authorities have said the shootings were intended to terrorise the nation’s capital area and extort $10 million (6 million) from the government.
At one point, Malvo said there was no reason to co-operate because "the only thing I would want is my time".
Malvo and Muhammad were arrested 24 October, 2002, as they slept in Muhammad’s 1990 Chevrolet Caprice, which prosecutors say had been turned into a snipers’ nest.
The car was parked at a rest stop near Frederick, Maryland. In it, investigators found the gun linked to the killings, authorities have testified.
Earlier, in the Muhammad trial, a rabbi from Tacoma, Washington, testified how his synagogue was shot up during a service in May 2002. Prosecutors say Muhammad and Malvo committed the shooting.
A Prince William jail supervisor, Roderick Osborne, also testified that Muhammad made what prosecutors described as an aborted escape attempt in March. Prosecutors said the escape plot is proof that Muhammad is not fit to live in prison and deserves the death penalty.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 18 June 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 10 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West