Muhammad Cross-Examines Several Witnesses
Tuesday, May 16, 2006; 4:29 AM
ROCKVILLE, Md. -- Convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad, acting as his own attorney at his second trial, testily cross-examined several witnesses on topics as mundane as whether a glove at one of the shooting scenes was dark brown or black.
"Sir, are you colorblind?" Muhammad asked police officer David McGill Monday after the officer insisted that a glove found at the scene of the final sniper shooting on Oct. 22, 2002, was brown and not black.
Muhammad's question drew an immediate objection from prosecutor Katherine Winfree, who said the question was argumentative. The judge agreed, and eventually the actual glove was shown to the jury so it could make its own call on the color.
Prosecutors are presenting evidence from the 13 sniper shootings in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., during October 2002. Ten people were killed and three wounded during that stretch. Muhammad and accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo were also linked to sniper shootings in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Washington state.
Muhammad, 45, was sentenced to death in 2003 for one of the Virginia shootings. Malvo was given a life term for another Virginia sniper killing.
In Maryland, both Malvo and Muhammad are charged with six counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of James Martin, Premkumar Walekar, James "Sonny" Buchanan, Sarah Ramos, Lori Lewis Rivera and Conrad Johnson.
Also Monday, four witnesses testified they received cryptic phone calls during the sniper spree that eventually helped lead to Muhammad and Malvo's arrest.
Authorities believe Malvo and Muhammad made several calls to police, and even a Virginia priest, as the pair tried to negotiate with investigators over their demands, which included $10 million to stop the random killings. In each, the callers use a code detailed in notes left at several shooting scenes.
A police officer testified that he received a phone call during the sniper spree from a voice claiming responsibility. After explaining that he perceived it to be an African-American voice, Muhammad asked the officer: "Would you consider me to be African-American or black?"
The officer responded that Muhammad is indeed African-American.
Prosecutors are expected to begin their forensics case against Muhammad soon. That will likely include ballistics evidence tying most of the sniper bullets to Muhammad's Bushmaster rifle. Prosecutors have also said they have DNA evidence found at several crime scenes and on the gun that matches Muhammad and Malvo.
Associated Press writer Stephen Manning contributed to this report.