- The Washington Times - Monday, November 11, 2002

Paul LaRuffa was just closing his restaurant in Clinton around 10:30 p.m. Sept. 5 when gunshots rang out.
He was shot six times at close range at the Margellina Restaurant, where the assailant swiped $3,000 in receipts and a Sony laptop computer.
On Friday, authorities linked the bloodshed with a string of sniper attacks that terrorized the Washington suburbs for three weeks last month.
Mr. LaRuffa was incredulous.
"The fact I was shot is mind-boggling, and the fact that it is linked is even more unbelievable to me," the 55-year-old businessman said.
Mr. LaRuffa's computer was found in John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo's car when they were arrested Oct. 24. Police said evidence ties the pair to the LaRuffa shooting, raising the number of shootings linked to the pair nationwide to 21.
The shooting also pushes the date of the first known sniper shooting to Sept. 5, nearly a month before Mr. Muhammad, 41, and Mr. Malvo, 17, are believed to have gone on a killing spree.
"We're confident we have a match between the shooting on Sept. 5 and the snipers," said Capt. Andy Ellis of the Prince George's County Police Department.
Capt. Ellis would not comment on what evidence police used to make the link, but law enforcement sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the laptop computer stolen in the Sept. 5 shooting was the one found in the sniper suspects' car.
Capt. Ellis said police were informed of the match by the Washington-area sniper task force.
Clinton is the same town where Mr. Muhammad's ex-wife Mildred lived with her sister. Mrs. Muhammad had fled there from Washington state because she feared her husband would hurt her, according to court documents.
Mr. LaRuffa said he is glad the suspected snipers are being prosecuted, adding that he is recovering "really well." He had said in an earlier interview he had been shot with a .22-caliber weapon.
Also Friday, a Virginia prosecutor said Mr. Malvo's fingerprints were the only ones found on the rifle used in the sniper attacks.
Federal authorities have given Virginia prosecutors the first trial against the suspects, saying the state has the best chance of obtaining the death penalty. No trial has been scheduled.
The teenage suspect will be held in an adult jail until a Dec. 5 hearing.
In Prince William County, Mr. Muhammad was formally charged with killing Dean Meyers as he fueled his car at a Manassas gas station Oct. 9. Judge Herman A. Whisenant Jr. asked Mr. Muhammad if he wanted a court-appointed attorney.
"I thought I already had counsel," Mr. Muhammad replied, referring to a lawyer appointed earlier by a federal court.
The judge explained that Mr. Muhammad didn't have an attorney to face the Virginia charges and again asked him if he wanted one appointed. Mr. Muhammad responded, "I don't know what to say, sir."
The judge appointed defense attorney Peter Greenspun, who later declined to comment on the case.
Mr. Muhammad's public defender in Maryland, James Wyda, denounced the federal government's decision to move him to Virginia, calling it "clumsy, macabre forum-hopping for the cheapest and easiest way to obtain the death penalty."

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