- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 8, 2003

A man accused of falsely telling police that he witnessed one of the sniper attacks in October pleaded no contest to an obstruction of justice charge yesterday.
Matthew Dowdy, 37, of Falls Church was sentenced to six months in jail and fined $1,000 on the misdemeanor count. He has been jailed since Oct. 18 on $75,000 bond.
"He told bald-faced lies in a major felony investigation, and we'd be remiss if we didn't prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law," said Raymond Morrogh, deputy commonwealth's attorney for Fairfax County.
Dowdy was charged after the Oct. 14 shooting of Linda Franklin in the parking garage outside the Home Depot in Falls Church. Dowdy told police he witnessed the shooting, but store security cameras showed that he was inside the store at the time, prosecutors said.
"Once we showed that to him back in October 2002, he immediately admitted that he didn't see the shooting," Mr. Morrogh said. In his first discussions with police, Dowdy provided a detailed description of a suspect's clothing, a weapon and a vehicle, all of which turned out to be false.
"It did cause us to expend some resources running down this false trail, and that was wasteful," Mr. Morrogh said.
Defense lawyer Thaddeus Furlong said Dowdy reluctantly decided to enter the plea because they both thought there was enough evidence for prosecutors to prove their case.
"Sometimes going to trial, while lawyers like that, is not always the best result," said Mr. Furlong, who subpoenaed several investigators involved in the sniper investigation.
According to Mr. Furlong, Dowdy did not pursue personal gain in telling police his story and was conveying information he received from a homeless female friend. Police could not locate her to support his claim.
"He did not seek fame, he did not seek money, he made no press appearance," Mr. Furlong said.
Mr. Furlong said that police said in news reports that Dowdy's comments did not hinder the sniper investigation. Two more persons were shot before John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo were arrested Oct. 24 at a rest stop on Interstate 70 in Frederick County, Md.
Mr. Muhammad, 42, is awaiting trial in Prince William County for the Oct. 9 shooting of Dean Harold Meyers at a Manassas gas station. Mr. Malvo, 17, is being held in Fairfax County in Mrs. Franklin's slaying.

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