- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 9, 2006

The young boy shot by a sniper four years ago took the stand in a Montgomery County courtroom today, now a young man, to face the man convicted of trying to kill him.

“I’m pretty much back to normal,” said Iran Brown, now 17 and about six feet tall.

Iran testified at the second trial of John Allen Muhammad, who has already been convicted and sentenced to death in Virginia for masterminding the 2002 sniper shootings that killed 10 and wounded three.

Iran was 13 on Oct. 7, 2002, when he became the seventh shooting victim — hit in the abdomen outside Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie.

“I was in pain. I couldn’t breathe. And I was scared,” Iran told jurors. Muhammad, 45, looked at the teen-ager without expression.

Iran, who said he hopes to play basketball for Duke University, furtively glanced at Muhammad when the defendant turned to confer with his attorneys.

He is now the same age that Muhammad’s young accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, was at the time of the shootings.

Iran’s uncle, Jerome Brown, was upset that the teen had to testify again about the shootings after having to testify at Muhammad’s first trial in 2003.

“How many times do we have to relive this nightmare? How many life sentences do we need,” Mr. Brown said.

The sixth shooting victim, Caroline Seawell, who also survived, took the stand earlier today.

Muhammad, who is representing himself in the trial, chose to cross-examine the woman, but not Iran.

Mrs. Seawell, 47, told jurors how she was shot outside a Michaels’ home goods store.

“I immediately realized I had been shot,” she said. “I dropped to the ground and prayed that God would let me live so that I could take care of my kids.”

During his brief cross-examination, Muhammad asked his standby attorney, Russel A. Neverdoncq, to stand in front of Mrs. Seawell and recreate the direction she was facing when shot.

Muhammad was convicted in his first trial of capital murder and masterminding the shootings, and a Virginia Beach jury sentenced him to death. Malvo, 21, has also been convicted and a Chesapeake jury sentenced him to life in prison without parole.

At Muhammad’s first trial, Iran told jurors that being shot brought him “closer to God.”

The teen’s wounding caused panicked parents to rush to pick up their children from school, and the shooting enraged then Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose, who was the public face of the sniper investigation.

“Someone is so mean-spirited that they shot a child,” said Chief Moose at a press conference after Iran was shot. He began to cry as he said, “Shooting a kid — I guess it’s getting to be really, really personal now.”

The snipers also left notes for the police that said, “Your children are not safe.”

Montgomery County officials say this second trial will provide insurance in case Muhammad’s Virginia conviction is overturned, and that it will provide closure for the Maryland victims’ relatives.

The current trial is in its second week, and is expected to last about another month. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.

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