Muhammad Gets 6 Life Terms in Md.

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By Ernesto Londoño and Eric Rich
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, June 2, 2006

As his last act in a Maryland courtroom, John Allen Muhammad chose silence.

The man convicted twice of terrorizing the Washington area with a powerful rifle and an impressionable accomplice betrayed no emotion yesterday as relatives of the people he killed spoke of their loss. He remained impassive as a judge sentenced him to six consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

"You chose the wrong community, sir, to stain with your acts of violence," Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge James L. Ryan told Muhammad. "You, Mr. Muhammad, have no hope. You have no future. You'll spend the rest of your life locked in a cage."

J. Wyndal Gordon, one of Muhammad's stand-by lawyers, maintained that Muhammad -- who doggedly defended himself during the month-long trial -- is an innocent man who was not allowed to tell his side of the story.

"We came here in search for justice," Wyndal said. "We came here in the search for the truth, to find out what really happened during those 23 days in October. My humble opinion is that we fell short."

What took place in the snipers' blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice in October 2002 has never been clearer to relatives of the sniper's victims, however, because the Maryland trial included the testimony of Muhammad's accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo.

Yesterday, four of those relatives stood just a few feet from Muhammad and told him of their anger and their heartache.

"You took my son from me in the hopes that you would snatch your children," said Sonia Wills, the mother of sniper victim Conrad Johnson, referring to Muhammad's apparent plot to reclaim the children he had lost in a custody dispute. "I know we will never see Conrad again. And you are the devil's advocate. You will never see or hug your children again. It's only a shame you cannot look at us to see the people you have devastated, the lives that you have ruined."

Muhammad didn't flinch, and his eyes remained cast down.

Nelson Rivera, the husband of Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera, described how much he struggled to explain to his young daughter what had happened to her mother.

"What I want to say is he not only killed my wife," Rivera said. "He killed me. He killed my daughter and all the rest of the family. You have no idea how hard it is to tell a 3 ½-year-old her mom got killed."

Ola Martin-Border, James Martin's sister, said she wishes she could have protected her "little brother" one last time.


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