Transcript: Testimony of Mildred Muhammad

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Thursday, November 20, 2003; 3:00 AM

This is a transcript of the direct questioning of Mildred Muhammad in the penalty phase of the trial of her ex-husband, convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad. The testimony was given Nov. 19, 2003 and involved Mildred Muhammad, Prince William Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert, Assistant Prince William Commonwealth's Attorney Richard A. Conway and defense attorney Peter D. Greenspun. This is based on a preliminary transcript by court reporters Fiduciary Reporting Inc.

PAUL B. EBERT: Ms. Muhammad, introduce yourself to the ladies and gentlemen of the jury.

MILDRED MUHAMMAD: My name is Mildred Denise Muhammad.

PRINCE WILLIAM CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE LEROY F. MILLETTE JR: Okay. Again, if you'll talk into the microphone that will help everybody hear all right. You can move that right -- can you help her with that, Bailiff?

EBERT: She's rather soft spoken.

MILLETTE: Yeah. We'll try to do what we can, but we need to hear her. If you could lean forward and talk into it. Thank you.

MUHAMMAD: Mildred Denise Muhammad.

EBERT: And what is your county or residence?

MUHAMMAD: Clinton, Maryland.

EBERT: And how long have you lived there, ma'am?

MUHAMMAD: Three years.

EBERT: Now, were you formally married, ma'am?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: To whom were you married?

MUHAMMAD: John Muhammad.

EBERT: Is that the person seated in the courtroom here today?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And do you and he have any children?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: How many?

MUHAMMAD: Three.

EBERT: What are their ages?

MUHAMMAD: Thirteen, eleven, and ten.

EBERT: Now, where were you and he married?

MUHAMMAD: Fort Lewis, Washington.

EBERT: And what was his occupation at that time?

MUHAMMAD: Combat Engineer.

EBERT: Combat engineer?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Was he in the United States Army?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And what was his -- what were his duties and training in that capacity?

MUHAMMAD: He learned about hand to hand combat. He learned the -- how to assemble and disassemble M16 rifles. He learned the different techniques and information about explosives.

EBERT: And did you and he travel while -- as he -- while he was in the service?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And where did you travel?

MUHAMMAD: We went from Fort Lewis to Benlock, Germany, to Fort Ord, Calif., and back to Fort Lewis.

EBERT: And during the time that you were married to him, did there come a time when he -- were there times when he would bring a weapon home with him?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: What type of weapon was that?

MUHAMMAD: He would bring his M16 home.

EBERT: An M16?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Now, I'm going to show you what's been marked for identification purposes as Exhibit 439 ..... and ask you if that identifies John Muhammad with an M16?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: I'd offer this at this time, Your Honor.

MILLETTE: Mr. Greenspun?

PETER D. GREENSPUN: No objection.

MILLETTE: I'll accept 439 without objection.

EBERT: Now, ma'am, did he from time to time bring home targets? Do you know whether or not he qualified as a marksman?

MUHAMMAD: I don't know what he qualified as, but he did bring those targets home.

EBERT: Targets home. Let me show you what's been marked for identification purposes as Commonwealth's Exhibit 440. ..... and ask you if that is one of the targets he brought to your home?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And do you recognize the handwriting?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And do you recognize the number?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: What is the number on that?

MUHAMMAD: His Social Security number.

EBERT: Whose?

MUHAMMAD: John's.

EBERT: I'd offer this at this time.

GREENSPUN: No objection.

MILLETTE: It's 440? Is that what you said?

EBERT: 440, yes.

MILLETTE: I'll accept 440 without objection.

EBERT: Do you know whether or not he had any training in urban warfare?

MUHAMMAD: Could you rephrase the question?

EBERT: Do you know whether or not he had any training or studies in what is known as urban warfare?

MUHAMMAD: If it was associated with him in combat engineering then he had the studies.

EBERT: Let me show you a document that's been marked for identification purposes as Exhibit 441, and ask you if you've seen that prior to this date?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And when and where did you see it?

MUHAMMAD: He would study it at home.

EBERT: How often?

MUHAMMAD: With his other books if he was striving to -- for promotions.

[Millette, at the request of Greenspun, asks Muhammad to speak up.] MUHAMMAD: He would study those books for promotions in learning what he needed to do next.

EBERT: Included in those books it was Exhibit 441?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: I'd offer that at this time.

MILLETTE: Any objection?

GREENSPUN: No, Your Honor.

MILLETTE: Okay. I'll accept 441 without objection.

EBERT: Now, did there come a point in time when he got out of the service?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: When was that?

MUHAMMAD: April of '94.

EBERT: April of '94?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And where were you physically located at that time?

MUHAMMAD: Tacoma, Washington.

EBERT: And do you recall the address that you had at that time?

MUHAMMAD: 6615 Sutherland Avenue, Fort Lewis, Washington.

EBERT: Now, do you know whether or not he had any training outside of the military in martial arts?

MUHAMMAD: With the karate school, he may have learned a few moves.

EBERT: Karate school?

MUHAMMAD: With the school with Felix -- Felix Strozier, the business that he opened he may have taught him a few moves at that time. Other than that, I don't know of any.

EBERT: And do you know where he -- you lived when he went to karate school?

MUHAMMAD: We were at 7302 South Landsberg Avenue.

EBERT: Now, ma'am, after you returned to Washington and he got out of the service, did you and he engage in a business?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And what type of business was that?

MUHAMMAD: It was a mobile auto repair service.

EBERT: And what do you mean by that?

MUHAMMAD: I mean when -- instead of it being a stationary auto repair shop, we would dispatch mechanics to the location of the customer to repair their vehicles.

EBERT: And after he got out of the service and during this period of time, did there come a point in time when he would take bicycle rides?

MUHAMMAD: No, sir.

EBERT: When was that?

MUHAMMAD: That was when he was in the service at Fort Ord.

EBERT: He was still in the service then?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Did he ever talk to you about having explosives in that capacity?

GREENSPUN: Objection, Your Honor. It's irrelevant.

MILLETTE: Overrule your objection.

EBERT: Did he talk to you about trying to obtain explosives?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: What type of explosives?

MUHAMMAD: C4.

EBERT: Tell the ladies and gentleman of the jury the background leading up to that discussion and how he came to tell you about that.

MUHAMMAD: There was a gentlemen that John had began socializing with.

EBERT: Can everybody hear her? Go ahead.

MUHAMMAD: And they would -- two ten speeds came to the house and they painted them black. They would take night rides out. Each wearing black shoes, black pants, black shirts -- or sweat shirts, and a black hat. And the night rides would occur I guess about two to three times a week; and each time they would go out they would come back -- it would be approximately about an hour and that was it.

EBERT: After one of those rides, did he have a discussion with about you attempting to obtain C4?

MUHAMMAD: He said one of -- yes, sir.

EBERT: What did he tell you?

MUHAMMAD: He said one of the rides was -- one of his units was on detailed to protect C4 explosives, and they went out one night and he knew when they were going to change guards; so the other guy was as -- very close to the C4 where you could reach out and touch it, but because he became afraid and he made a noise then they had to leave immediately. So he was not able to get the explosives.

EBERT: And about what period of time was that, ma'am -- time frame?

MUHAMMAD: That was in '93.

EBERT: 1993?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Now, ma'am, after you started -- you and he started a business, did the business thrive?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And did there come a point in time when you had occasion to meet Isa Nichols in that regard?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And just tell the ladies and gentlemen of the jury how that came to be.

MUHAMMAD: Well, we had been in business for about eleven months, and it was in November that I was looking for a bookkeeper; and I was riding down Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Tacoma and I saw her office.

And it was entitled Legal Rights and Associates. I went into the office and I met Isa and explained to her that I needed a bookkeeper. I had all of my paperwork in order and that I just was not able to do the bookkeeping myself but I needed a professional person to help me put them in order. And so she said that she would take on the job.

EBERT: She also helped you with taxes?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Did you develop a friendly relationship with her?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And would you visit each other periodically?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Now, did there come a point in time when you started having domestic difficulties with your husband?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And as a result of that, did you and he separate?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And when was that?

MUHAMMAD: September 9th, 1999.

EBERT: 1990?

MUHAMMAD: 9.

EBERT: 9. And did you continue to live in the marital home? Where did you live at that point in time?

MUHAMMAD: In Tacoma, Washington.

EBERT: What address?

MUHAMMAD: 7302 South Landsberg.

EBERT: And where did he go, if you know?

MUHAMMAD: I don't.

EBERT: Who -- where were the children living at that time?

MUHAMMAD: They were with me.

EBERT: And did there come a point in time when he would -- would he visit with them periodically?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And did there come a point in time when you had a -- he had a talk with you in the garage?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And was this -- tell the ladies and gentlemen of the jury what he said to you.

MUHAMMAD: He said -- he came in the house and he said, "Come here. I need to talk to you." So we went in the garage and he said, "You and Olivia are not going to raise my children." I said, "What are you talking about?"

He said, "Just know this. You have become my enemy and as my enemy, I will kill you." And I said, "Well, I've been sleeping with the enemy all of this time, so you do what you have to do and I'll do what I have to do."

And I left the garage and he left after that.

EBERT: And who was the lady that -- Olivia -- who is she?

MUHAMMAD: She's my Muslim sister in Seattle, Washington.

EBERT: And who lived with [you] at that point in time?

MUHAMMAD: My mother.

EBERT: And what -- do you recall the approximate -- date when he made that statement?

MUHAMMAD: It had to be March -- February or March of 2000.

EBERT: February or March of 2000?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And did there come a point -- what -- was your habit -- was his habit to take the children for weekends on occasion?

MUHAMMAD: Every other weekend, and that only started in March.

EBERT: Do you know Robert Holmes?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Were you aware that on some weekends they would go to his home?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Q Now, did there come a point in time when your children were not returned to you after one of these weekend visits?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: When was that?

MUHAMMAD: That was March 27th, 2000. My mother's birthday.

EBERT: And tell the ladies and gentlemen the circumstances surrounding that.

MUHAMMAD: He had the children the 23rd, that weekend, and he was supposed to drop them off at school that Monday, but they didn't show up at school. And I paged him, and he said that -- I paged him continuously because I told him before he took them that Monday was mom's birthday and that they needed to be home by 5:30; and he said, "Okay. No problem." So 5:30 came and went and I paged him. He didn't call back until 7:35 that evening. My son was on the phone, and he said, "Mom, We're at Kmart buying the clothes that you told dad to buy for us." He said -- I said, "Well, ask your dad when will you be home." He said, "We're coming home right after that." So 8:30 came, no response; and I continued to page. By 11:35 p.m. he called and said, "We were stuck in Seattle. We're in route." So as soon as I hung up the phone I just had a bad feeling that something was going on, and I hadn't seen them anymore.

I didn't know anything.

EBERT: You never saw your children after that?

MUHAMMAD: No, sir.

EBERT: Did there come a point in time that you did see your children?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir. Sept. 4th.

EBERT: When?

MUHAMMAD: Sept. 4th, 2001.

EBERT: How long were they gone from you?

MUHAMMAD: Eighteen months.

EBERT: Did you know where they were?

MUHAMMAD: No, sir.

EBERT: Let me back up a little bit. Did he support you at all after he left?

MUHAMMAD: No, sir.

EBERT: And did there come a point in time that you were actually evicted?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Okay. Did Isa Nichols assist you at that point in time?

MUHAMMAD: Assist -- can you rephrase the question?

EBERT: Was Isa Nichols aware of the situation?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And was she aware that you were having problems meeting your payments?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Now, did there come a point in time when you went Tacoma General Hospital?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: When was that?

MUHAMMAD: They was May 15th, Mother's Day, 2000.

EBERT: And your children were gone at that point in time?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Did -- what was your purpose in going to the hospital?

MUHAMMAD: I had lost two units of blood from stressing about where my children were. I passed out and I had to be taken to the hospital.

EBERT: Now, had you periodically had some contact -- telephone contact with the defendant? Did he try to contact you during this period of time?

MUHAMMAD: Before or after the hospital?

EBERT: Before and after?

MUHAMMAD: Before the hospital, no. While in the hospital, yes.

EBERT: Now, did you receive a phone call while you were in the hospital?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And as a result of that phone call, what happened?

MUHAMMAD: As a result of that phone call, I was moved to another room with a security guard posted outside of the door, and security was put in place that if anybody was to see me then their ID had to be checked.

EBERT: Who did you get the phone call from?

MUHAMMAD: From John.

EBERT: How long were you in the room with the guard?

MUHAMMAD: Two days.

EBERT: And when you left the hospital, where did you go?

MUHAMMAD: To a shelter.

EBERT: A shelter?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And where was that shelter located?

MUHAMMAD: Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Tacoma.

EBERT: How long did you live at the shelter?

MUHAMMAD: Eight months.

EBERT: And during that period of time did there come a time when you went to the court?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: When did you go to the court, ma'am?

MUHAMMAD: When did I begin or when did I end?

EBERT: When did you go to the court in order to seek some relief?

MUHAMMAD: Two weeks later.

EBERT: And did you subsequently obtain a divorce and custody of your children?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: I'm going to show you what's been marked Exhibit 442. ..... and ask you if you can identify these documents. If you want to take a minute to look at them, you can. Are those the documents concerning your case?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Now, the document on the bottom, did you file a complaint with the court asking for a protective order?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Tell the ladies and gentlemen of the jury what your complaint was. You can read that for us.

GREENSPUN: Object to all -- this whole area.

MILLETTE: Overrule your objection. Go ahead, Mr. Ebert.

EBERT: Read the complaint that you filed with the court.

MUHAMMAD: The reason that I did not make the court appearance is because I was out of town and did not have an attorney to represent me. Since the last restraining order I've still been subjected to John threatening to destroy my life. I have had my phone number changed three times within five days. I spoke with Bill Darset of U.S. West Communications. He said according to their records John called today trying to find out my phone number. Because I have a special code on the record he was unable to get the number.

Bill Darset's phone number is (206) 504-0759. He said he would help me and change the number as much as possible and not charge me. I asked if he could get the number if he knew someone who worked there. He said it was possible. I am afraid of John. He was a demolition expert in the military. He is behaving very, very irrational. Whenever he does talk with me he always says that he's going to destroy my life and I hang up the phone.

EBERT: How many times did he talk -- did you talk with him on the phone and he told you he would destroy your life?

MUHAMMAD: More than five. Every time.

EBERT: And how many times did you change your phone number?

MUHAMMAD: When he called to let me know he received -- that he got the number, I changed it.

EBERT: And all during this time did you know the whereabouts of your children?

MUHAMMAD: No, sir.

EBERT: Now, did there come a point in time when the court awarded you custody of your children?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And did you also order a restraining order -- a protective order against him?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And did you order spousal support?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Your Honor, I'd offer that document into evidence?

MILLETTE: What number was that? Do you remember? Do you want to get the document from her? What was the number, Mr. Ebert?

EBERT: 442.

MILLETTE: Any objection other than previously raised?

GREENSPUN: Your Honor, its self-serving as well as hearsay. It's not relevant to the current circumstances.

MILLETTE: Okay. I'd overrule your objection. I'll accept 442. Overrule your objection.

EBERT: Now, when you were at the shelter did Isa Nichols have anything to do with you going to the shelter?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: What was that?

MUHAMMAD: She knew the executive director of the shelter and was able to get me a room.

EBERT: Were you working during this period of time?

MUHAMMAD: No, sir.

EBERT: And did you during this period of time make an effort to find your children?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And what did you do?

MUHAMMAD: I put them on a website.

EBERT: You put them on a website?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Do you know the website logo or name?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir. It's www.mypages.utopia.com/children.

EBERT: Do you have their pictures?

MUHAMMAD: I put their pictures on the site. I explained the situation at hand. I had a 1-800 number that was nationwide in case anyone --

GREENSPUN: Judge, [I] object to this. It's irrelevant. The only possible way it could be relevant is if there is some evidence that Mr. Muhammad saw that or knew about that, and there's no evidence of that.

MILLETTE: Mr. Ebert?

EBERT: What she did in order to locate the children I think is relevant in this case. We're going to get to the point where she does, in fact, does find them.

MILLETTE: I don't think what she did to find them is relevant as what happened when she found them. So I'll sustain the objection.

EBERT: Did there come a point that you left Tacoma?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Where did you go?

MUHAMMAD: I came to Clinton, Maryland.

EBERT: And why did you come to Maryland?

MUHAMMAD: My sister called and said that my mom had pneumonia and she needed help in taking care of her.

EBERT: Is that the same mother that had -- I guess it's the same mother. She had lived with you prior to that time, had she not?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: All right. And when did she leave Tacoma to come to Maryland?

MUHAMMAD: She left in August of 2000.

EBERT: And when did you leave Tacoma to Maryland?

MUHAMMAD: January of 2001.

EBERT: While you were in Maryland, did there come a point in time when you had a phone call concerning your children?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Tell the ladies and gentlemen of the jury what happened.

MUHAMMAD: August the 28th, 2001 I received a call from Ms. Mary East of the Phoebe house. She indicated that my children may have been found, and instructed me to fax all of the paperwork, the warrants, the custody, the divorce papers to a detective who could help in the process of regaining my children. That was the 28th of August.

EBERT: And did you do that?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir, I did.

EBERT: And thereafter did you receive another phone call?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir, Aug. 31st.

EBERT: Okay. What did that phone call -- what was that about?

MUHAMMAD: Aug. 31st at 4:35 p.m., he called and told me that they found my children. They were under assumed names. And once they told -- asked them to say their real names, then they knew they had the right children -- that they put them in child protective services and for me to come back to Tacoma so that we could have an emergency custody hearing.

EBERT: Did you come back to Tacoma?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: When did you arrive there?

MUHAMMAD: I arrived September the 3rd, for court September 4th.

EBERT: And when you went -- did you go to court after you arrived there?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Who went with you to court?

MUHAMMAD: Isa Nichols; Anita, she's an attorney at the YWCA; and Mirasol Melindez was a victim's advocate.

EBERT: Now, Anita was -- you don't remember her last name? You don't remember that, do you?

MUHAMMAD: I can't recall that.

EBERT: She was an attorney or counsel for you?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And you had a victim advocate also with you?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Tell the ladies and gentlemen of the jury what happened once you got to court.

MUHAMMAD: When we got to court John was at the pay phone and we went to the Sheriff's office. We went upstairs to go into court so we would be on time, and he was already there. Once the judge called for us to come up, I went into the inside of the courtroom and John was on the outside. The judge said that, "We're here to decide who gets the children," and John began saying that he didn't understand why those proceedings were taking place. He didn't -- that I told him to take the children because I didn't want to raise them anymore, and the judge told him that the only thing we're here to decide today is who will get the children. He said, "You would have to go through all of the procedures that Ms. Williams went through in order to regain rights for visitation." He said that since Ms. Williams' paperwork is in perfect order then she will get the children back. And he had to sign a document giving notification that he was turning the children back over to me.

EBERT: How did he react to that?

MUHAMMAD: He was very angry.

EBERT: When I say he, I mean the defendant, John. Very angry?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And what did he do?

MUHAMMAD: He stormed out of the courtroom.

EBERT: And what did you, your attorney, victim advocate, and Isa do?

MUHAMMAD: We all went out into the hall. The attorney was calling CPS to find out where the children were.

EBERT: Did something happen then?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Tell the ladies and gentlemen of the jury what that was?

MUHAMMAD: While she was on the phone I looked to my right and I saw John coming down the hall and I ran down the hall.

EBERT: You ran away from him?

MUHAMMAD: I ran away from him.

EBERT: And why did you do that, ma'am?

MUHAMMAD: Because of the way that he was coming towards me. And he -- it was very -- for me, it was hostile. I knew that he was coming for me.

GREENSPUN: Judge, I object.

MILLETTE: What's the basis of your objection?

GREENSPUN: Her conclusion is speculation. He was walking down the hall.

MILLETTE: I think it's a kind of opinion that somebody knows somebody can make. I'm going to overrule your objection. I think it's that kind of opinion you don't need to be an expert to make.

EBERT: Go ahead, ma'am. You say you -- you knew him a long time, did you not?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: You knew him very well, right?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Could you see his eyes before you ran?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And will you describe the look he had in his eyes?

MUHAMMAD: That he was coming to get me.

EBERT: And when you ran where did you run?

MUHAMMAD: I ran down the hall and around the corner.

EBERT: And did there come a point in time when other people joined you there?

MUHAMMAD: Yeah. They looked up and saw and they ran too.

EBERT: Who is they?

MUHAMMAD: Isa and the attorney.

EBERT: What happened to the victim advocate?

MUHAMMAD: She was downstairs in the sheriff's office.

EBERT: She had gone downstairs prior to this?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And did the three of them run to you?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir. They ran where I ran.

EBERT: Then where did the three of you go after you met up?

MUHAMMAD: We went downstairs to the sheriff's office.

EBERT: The sheriff's office?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And did you have deputy sheriffs there for protection?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: Judge, objection. Leading.

MILLETTE: I'll sustain the objection. No leading the witness.

EBERT: Were there people there -- law enforcement officers in the room where you went at that point in time?

MUHAMMAD: We went into the sheriff's department, yes, sir.

EBERT: And were there people in uniform there?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Were they armed?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And after you got there, what did you do?

MUHAMMAD: We waited for the cab to pick us up to take us to where the children were.

EBERT: And did the cab come?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Did you get in the cab?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: Now, during this period of time did you know his whereabouts?

MUHAMMAD: No, sir.

EBERT: Did the attorney do anything to try to locate him in any way while you were in this area -- or maybe before you got to the sheriff's department?

MUHAMMAD: I didn't understand your question.

EBERT: All right. Did your attorney go -- try to look out a window or something on your behalf?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: Judge, I'd object to what the attorney did. How would she know exactly what she did.

MILLETTE: I'd agree with that. Sustain the objection. Let's move on, Mr. Ebert.

EBERT: Any how, when the cab came you went and got your children; is that right?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And what did you do then?

MUHAMMAD: We went back to the domestic violence shelter.

EBERT: And how long did you remain in Tacoma?

MUHAMMAD: We didn't. We had -- we didn't.

EBERT: What did you do?

MUHAMMAD: We left that night.

EBERT: And why did you do that?

MUHAMMAD: Because my attorney said that based on John's behavior --

GREENSPUN: Judge, objection. Hearsay.

MILLETTE: Sustain the objection.

EBERT: Your Honor, I think she can say why she did it whether it's true or not. If she said that to her it explains her actions.

GREENSPUN: She talked to her attorney and she took an action. What the attorney said is irrelevant. Unless they want to bring her here so I can cross-examine her.

MILLETTE: Mr. Ebert, I don't think it's hearsay. I think it's a reason for what she did.

It's not offered for the truth of the matter so I'll instruct the jury what was said by the attorney is not offered for the truth of the matter. It's for the reason why she did what she did.

Go ahead, Mr. Ebert.

EBERT: What did the attorney say?

MUHAMMAD: That based on John's behavior in court that I needed to leave tonight for fear that he may find me and kill me.

GREENSPUN: And what?

MUHAMMAD: And to --

MILLETTE: To kill her.

GREENSPUN: And kill you. Okay. Thanks.

EBERT: And you did leave?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And where did you go?

MUHAMMAD: We arrived at Baltimore Airport the next day.

EBERT: And where did you and your children then go to reside?

MUHAMMAD: To my sister's home.

EBERT: And that's, what, in Prince George's County, Maryland?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

EBERT: And did you do anything to hide your identity to try to prevent him from finding you?

GREENSPUN: Judge, objection to --

EBERT: I'll withdraw it.

GREENSPUN: what Mr. Muhammad did.

EBERT: From that day to this -- have you seen him from that day to this in person?

MUHAMMAD: No, sir.

EBERT: The court's indulgence?

MILLETTE: Sure.

EBERT: No further questions.

[There is then a 15-minute recess]

GREENSPUN: Good morning, ma'am. My name is Peter Greenspun. I'm one of Mr. Muhammad's attorneys.

Mrs. Muhammad, you and Mr. Muhammad were married when?

MUHAMMAD: March 10th, 1988.

GREENSPUN: 1988. That was in Fort Lewis?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: But actually you met before that, right?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: Where was that?

MUHAMMAD: In Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

GREENSPUN: Is that where you're from?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: Okay. And you moved to Fort Lewis knowing that you were going to be married; is that correct?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And you said the ages of your children, but would you tell the court and members of the jury the ages of your children with their names and their gender, please?

MUHAMMAD: John Junior is thirteen, Salena Williams is eleven, and Taalibah Muhammad is seven.

GREENSPUN: Okay. And which grades are each of them in?

MUHAMMAD: Taalibah is in 5th. Salena's in 6th. John's in 8th.

GREENSPUN: And they live with you in Maryland?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: Ma'am, when you -- and from 1988 until the separation of September of 1999, except when Mr. Muhammad was stationed overseas or the military took him somewhere else, you guys lived together the entirety of that time; is that correct?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And he was in -- stationed in Germany and eventually was sent to Dessert Storm, the Gulf War, was he not?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: When was that?

MUHAMMAD: That was December 1989.

GREENSPUN: That he was --

MUHAMMAD: That he was sent to Dessert --

GREENSPUN: Dessert Storm or Germany?

MUHAMMAD: Dessert Storm.

GREENSPUN: Okay. And did you move to Germany as well?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: When did you go to Germany?

MUHAMMAD: I went to Germany in June of 1989.

GREENSPUN: Okay. And how long were you guys in Germany?

MUHAMMAD: For two years.

GREENSPUN: How long was Mr. Muhammad in Kuwait or Iraq --

MUHAMMAD: Three months.

GREENSPUN: Say it again.

MUHAMMAD: Three months.

GREENSPUN: Three months. And when he returned, he -- was he injured when he returned?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: Okay. He was hospitalized?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And then you saw him at the hospital and resumed living together once he was discharged from his injuries; is that correct?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And then did you go back -- where did you go after being transferred out of Germany?

MUHAMMAD: Fort Ord.

GREENSPUN: And where is that?

MUHAMMAD: California.

GREENSPUN: And that's an Army facility as well; is that right?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And then how long were you there before you moved somewhere else?

MUHAMMAD: A year and about three months.

GREENSPUN: Okay. And then where were you then stationed?

MUHAMMAD: Fort Lewis, Washington.

GREENSPUN: And that's where you were until Mr. Muhammad left the military; is that correct?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: Now, while Mr. Muhammad was in the service after you arrived back at Fort Lewis -- Fort Lewis for those who don't know is just south of Tacoma, Washington; is that correct?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: Seattle, Tacoma, Fort Lewis, right?

MUHAMMAD: Right.

GREENSPUN: Mr. Muhammad, during the time that he was still in the service, began working on some side mechanic-type job, did he not?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: In fact, he had a goal or a vision, if you will, of being a self-employed businessman, right?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And you shared that with him?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: Okay. You have, if you will, the organizational and the written skills, and he had the go-out and do the mechanic work skills, right?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: Is that fair?

MUHAMMAD: That's fair.

GREENSPUN: And tell the members of the jury what the goal for the business was, the nature of the business and the goal for the business as Mr. Muhammad was preparing to leave the service.

MUHAMMAD: The goal of the business was to help those soldiers whose families -- family members who were still on post have affordable auto repair service because when the soldier would depart, the dependents would be left, and there are many auto repair services that would take advantage of their husbands not being there. So we wanted to provide a service that there -- the soldiers would be comfortable with knowing that their dependents would be taken care of when they were gone.

GREENSPUN: Okay. And part of the way to make it not only affordable but convenient was to make it mobile?

MUHAMMAD: A mobile service, yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And so that Mr. Muhammad could go with a truck or a van to people's home or place of employment and do the oil change or whatever needed to be done there; is that correct?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And once he actually left the service, did you guys begin that service full time?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: What was the name of the business?

MUHAMMAD: Express Car Truck Mechanic.

GREENSPUN: And did you have a vehicle?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: Was it a van or a pickup truck?

MUHAMMAD: Pickup truck.

GREENSPUN: Okay. And eventually the business started on the kitchen table, we understand, right?

MUHAMMAD: Right.

GREENSPUN: And did it eventually grow to having office space and parts space and --

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: -- and other employees even; is that right?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And it grew from barely bringing in any money into in excess of $200,000 a year, right?

MUHAMMAD: Right.

GREENSPUN: The -- and you maintained the books eventually with the help of Ms. Nichols or others.

Mr. Muhammad went out and did the actual work, right?

MUHAMMAD: Right.

GREENSPUN: He worked a lot of hours, didn't he?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And often from dawn to dusk? Light to dark, right?

MUHAMMAD: Right.

GREENSPUN: And you worked just as hard at managing the parts ordering and the books part of the business as well, right?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: But you also had kids in the meantime too?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And is it correct, Mrs. Muhammad -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- that the two of you really were both extremely involved in the raising of your young children?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: Okay. And except when Mr. Muhammad was in the service and wasn't there, he was maybe not by the number of hours because he was out working outside the home, but as involved as anyone you knew in the caring for and the raising of the kids, wasn't he?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And you've described him over and over again through the years as being a tremendous father for your three kids, haven't you?

MUHAMMAD: He was a good father at that time.

GREENSPUN: Okay. And obviously you had difficulties between the two of you and -- but let's do it up to that point.

You were satisfied with him as a father for your children, right?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: Okay. He helped dress them and play with them and take them to school?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: Activities and all that kind of thing, right?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: He was never abusive in any way toward the children. You wouldn't have put up with that, would you?

MUHAMMAD: No, sir.

GREENSPUN: And you said something about karate earlier.

MUHAMMAD: Uh-huh.

GREENSPUN: Who is Mr. Strozier?

MUHAMMAD: He was the instructor of a karate school that we had John Junior in.

GREENSPUN: That -- say it again. I can't hear with the fan.

MUHAMMAD: He was the instructor of a karate school that we had John Junior in.

GREENSPUN: Oh, that you had John Junior in. Okay.

And eventually you and Mr. Muhammad made a small investment in that business as well, right? A sort of partnership?

MUHAMMAD: No, sir.

GREENSPUN: No? All right. Well, Mr. Muhammad helped Mr. Strozier out as far as fixing up the place of the karate shop and things like that, right?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: All right. And John Junior went to karate and you would take him or you and Mr. Muhammad would take him and be supportive with bake sales and the fund-raisers that goes with those kinds of activities, right?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And, of course, the younger kids were younger, but they would be there with you guys as well, right?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: When -- and all the while the auto express business was working?

MUHAMMAD: Right. Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: Okay. And all the while you and Mr. Muhammad were really pretty active in the Tacoma community, were you not?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: You were -- you were each pretty well known within the Tacoma community, weren't you?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And you're active not only with your kids but with a lot of other kids also, weren't you?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And, in fact, tell the members of the jury what you and Mr. Muhammad would do from time-to-time when a child was one step away from foster care, what you guys would do to help that child.

MUHAMMAD: We would allow them to come into our home and care for them and try to find out what their issues were to help them through the process so that they would be able to go back home.

GREENSPUN: And that happened a number of times in the mid to late 90s, didn't it?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And Mr. Muhammad was absolutely supportive of that effort, wasn't he?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: In fact, he in some instances would say to you -- and I don't mean to be disrespectful, but, Mildred, I found out about this teenager, about this kid or something that needs help. And you guys would say, Let's do what we can do, right?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: There was a young lady right across the street from you --

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: -- who you took in, right?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: What was her name?

MUHAMMAD: Tattiana.

GREENSPUN: Tattiana. And she was literally one step from state care, wasn't she?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: Okay, and what kind of things did -- you talked about Mr. Holmes, Robert Holmes earlier.

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: Mr. Holmes was pretty active in the Tacoma community with kids as well, wasn't he?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And he had a -- apparently some boxing skills and had a -- I'll call it a boxing school. That may not be the right thing, but a boxing program that he --

MUHAMMAD: Uh-huh.

GREENSPUN: -- operated for disadvantaged kids, right?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And did Mr. Muhammad take Tattiana over to Mr. Holmes so that he would get her involved in those kinds of activities as well?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: Did Mr. Muhammad help Mr. Holmes with his boxing program?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: The -- went to school activities with you?

John?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: The -- Mr. Muhammad really wasn't -- he didn't feel that he was very good as far as paperwork and writing and those things are concerned, right?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: But he still worked with the kids as far as homework to the extent that he felt he could help them in schoolwork and school activities, didn't he?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: Let me ask you, ma'am: You -- you couldn't -- Mr. Muhammad, you said, had difficulties leading into the late summer or fall of 1999?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And you actually filed for divorce in December of 1999, didn't you?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: Okay. And all during the time from the time of the separation forward, Mr. Muhammad continued to see the children on a regular basis, right?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And that was something informal that you guys worked out? He'd call up and make arrangements with you and it would be that kind of thing, right?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And you knew you could call him and say, I need to help, or, I need a break from the kids as sometimes happens or --

MUHAMMAD: No, sir.

GREENSPUN: You never needed a break from the kids?

MUHAMMAD: I didn't call him to say I need a break from the children.

GREENSPUN: Okay. But you would call him about kids' activities, school activities?

MUHAMMAD: No, sir.

GREENSPUN: You never told him about school activities?

MUHAMMAD: Not after we separated, no.

GREENSPUN: Okay. So he would call you and ask about those things about the kids?

MUHAMMAD: No, sir.

GREENSPUN: He would call and ask about making arrangements to see the kids?

EBERT: Your Honor, she answered the question.

MILLETTE: I think's it's the leading of a question. Overrule your objection.

MUHAMMAD: I'm sorry. Could you repeat what you just --

GREENSPUN: He would call and ask you about making arrangements to see the kids after you separated?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

GREENSPUN: And then he would see the kids by picking them up and taking them places or doings things or going to school activities or whatever the case may be?

MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

(testimony continued on next page)


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