- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 18, 2003

VIRGINIA BEACH — Convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad is an anti-Semite who wanted to shoot many more people, including his ex-wife, elementary-school students, partygoers in Washington state, and residents of the Hampton Roads area and North Carolina, witnesses told jurors yesterday.

Prosecutors trying to win a death sentence against Muhammad said a map on a Sony Vaio laptop computer recovered in Muhammad’s car after his arrest show he planned further killings over a wide swath if he had not been caught. The map pinpoints 28 locations, stretching as far south as Raleigh, N.C., and as far north as Hagerstown, Md., and Martinsburg, W.Va.

Several marks were in southeastern Virginia, the area where both trials were moved to escape the zone of fear created by the sniper shootings. One location in Hampton, Va., was captioned, “Possible hit, less ways out, disadvantage,” and another in Norfolk was captioned, “Good eastern move, many ways out,” FBI computer expert John Hair told jurors.

Another map also listed three elementary schools in Prince George’s County — the same county where Iran Brown, 13, was shot Oct. 7, 2002, outside Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie.

Muhammad on Monday was found guilty of two counts of capital murder for the Oct. 9, 2002, fatal shooting of Dean Harold Meyers, 53, at a Manassas gas station. Jurors convicted Muhammad for killing more than one person in three years and for masterminding an act of terrorism.

Muhammad, 42, and fellow suspect Lee Boyd Malvo, 18, who is on trial in nearby Chesapeake, Va., have been linked to the 13 sniper shootings that left 10 dead and three wounded in the Washington area in October 2002. The two also have been linked to nine shootings in five other states.

Muhammad’s trial is now in the sentencing phase. During this phase, jurors will decide whether to sentence Muhammad to death or life in prison. Prosecutors, who are arguing for death, must prove to the jurors, beyond a reasonable doubt, either that Muhammad’s criminal actions were vile or that he poses a threat of future danger. During the day and a half of testimony that began Monday afternoon, they appear to be proving both aggravating factors.

Closing statements are expected tomorrowmorning, and the case will then go to the jury.

Earlier yesterday, Earl Lee Dancy, Muhammad’s friend from Tacoma, Wash., testified that Muhammad didn’t like Jewish people.

“He said Jewish people were dirty people,” Mr. Dancy told jurors. “He actually respected [Adolf Hitler] in a way. [Hitler] basically eliminated them or tried to eliminate them.”

A rabbi whose Tacoma, Wash., synagogue was shot up in May 2002 testified that he didn’t realize for several days that the damage to the temple had been caused by a bullet.

Rabbi Mark Glickman told jurors that he was in the midst of Saturday services at the Temple Beth El when he noticed a hole in the ark that holds the Torah, the faith’s sacred scrolls. The bullet barely had missed the Torah itself. No one was injured.

When he saw the hole on the upper wall of the ark, “I thought it was a mouse. I wondered how it got up so high on the wall.”

Prosecutors argued that the bullet was tied to a gun to which Muhammad had access.

Mr. Dancy also told the jury that Muhammad used his guns at the shooting range without cleaning them, watched a Navy SEALS sniper-training tape with Mr. Malvo and hated his ex-wife.

“He said he loved her at one time … . She caused him to lose everything, and, um, he was going to fix her,” Mr. Dancy testified.

Prosecutors had presented witnesses in the Feb. 16, 2002, fatal shooting of Keenya Cook, 21, in Tacoma, Wash. Miss Cook lived with her aunt, Isa Nichols, who likely was the intended target because she supported Mrs. Muhammad through her custody battle with Muhammad.

Mrs. Muhammad won custody of the couple’s three children on Sept. 4, 2001, after Muhammad took the children and disappeared for about 18 months.

Prosecution witnesses linked Miss Cook’s shooting to a .45 mm handgun owned by Mr. Dancy, with whom Muhammad and Mr. Malvo had lived on and off in 2001. Prosecutors also presented evidence that two bullets fired on or around May 4, 2002, into Mr. Glickman’s temple came from one of Mr. Dancy’s other guns, a .44 mm revolver.

But defense attorneys attacked Mr. Dancy’s credibility during cross-examination. Attorney Jonathan Shapiro accused Mr. Dancy of contradicting his story because he wanted to escape punishment for felonies he committed when he bought a .308 mm high-powered rifle for Muhammad and later lied about it to FBI agents.

The rifle Mr. Dancy bought was not the Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle that has been ballistically linked to 11 of the 13 Washington-area shootings. Muhammad might have intended to use the other .308-caliber rifle during his shooting spree. However, it was found in the woods by a Tacoma, Wash., man who had just come from a party at a nearby apartment building that the rifle was pointing toward.

Yesterday afternoon, witnesses also testified that Muhammad had tried to escape from jail last March.

Lt. Roderick Osborne, a jail supervisor at the Prince William County Adult Detention Center, testified that he had received unspecified information from another inmate about Muhammad’s plans. Lt. Osborne told jurors he saw Muhammad, who initially had been out of view, pressed up to the side of a door that leads to a common area. Muhammad, who at the time was wearing only a white bedsheet around his waist, was supposed to have been in his cell at the time.

Lt. Osborne said Muhammad subsequently was moved to solitary confinement.

Cpl. Jorge Melero-Vazquez, a member of the tactical-response team at the Prince William County Adult Detention Center, later testified that he found a sharpened plastic spoon handle in Muhammad’s cell on Sept. 12.

Prosecutors said the escape plot is evidence that Muhammad is not fit to live in prison and deserves the death penalty.

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