- The Washington Times - Monday, October 27, 2003

VIRGINIA BEACH — The widow of sniper victim Premkumar Walekar was overcome by sobs and led from the courtroom by her son yesterday as a witness testified about her husband’s death during the 10th day of John Allen Muhammad’s trial.

“It’s like she’s reliving the whole thing again,” said Vijay Walekar, the victim’s brother, outside the courthouse last night.

Margaret Walekar began to weep as Caroline Namrow described seeing Mr. Walekar, 54, stagger toward her after being shot as he filled up his cab with gas at 8:12 a.m. on Oct. 3, 2002, in Aspen Hill.

“He had a look of shock, surprise, a very wide-eyed look on his face,” said Dr. Namrow, a pediatrician and mother of three. “He came to the driver’s side window, which was partially open, and said, ‘Call an ambulance.’ Then he fell.”

Mr. Walekar’s blood smeared across the side of Dr. Namrow’s white minivan. When Dr. Namrow said Mr. Walekar’s eyes rolled back in his head as she tried to administer CPR, Mrs. Walekar lost control of her emotions. Her son, Andrew, 24, put his arm around her and led her out of the courtroom.

Yesterday, prosecutors finished presenting evidence in the string of random shootings last fall in Maryland, Alabama and Louisiana, which took place before the 13 sniper attacks that killed 10 persons, wounded three others and paralyzed the Washington area with fear for three weeks.

Mr. Muhammad, 42, is charged with two counts of capital murder for the Oct. 9 killing of Dean Harold Meyers, 53, at a Manassas gas station, but prosecutors seeking the death penalty are presenting evidence in 15 other shootings. Each shooting is tied in some way to or is among the 13 attacks in the Washington area.

Mr. Muhammad and fellow suspect Lee Boyd Malvo, 18, have been linked to 22 shootings in all, including shootings in Washington state, Arizona and Georgia.

Mr. Malvo goes on trial Nov. 10 in Chesapeake for the Oct. 14 slaying of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, 47, at a Falls Church Home Depot store.

Jurors heard from 12 witnesses yesterday, including Mr. Muhammad’s cousin Charlene Anderson, who said she asked him and Mr. Malvo to leave her house after they stayed with her and her two daughters, 19 and 22, during summer 2002.

“I felt uneasy about Malvo. I don’t know. I just had a bad feeling, with respect to my daughters,” said Ms. Anderson, who grew up with Mr. Muhammad. The two were close once, she said, and he called her “Tootsie.”

While he was there, Mr. Muhammad told her he was working undercover with a team of operatives to locate 500 pounds of C-4 explosives that were stolen from a military base. He pointed to Mr. Malvo and told his cousin, “You see that young man right there? He’s highly trained,” Ms. Anderson quoted Mr. Muhammad.

Ms. Anderson testified that Mr. Muhammad showed her a rifle and asked her where he could get more bullets. Defense attorney Peter D. Greenspun asked the judge to strike her testimony, saying prosecutors had implied that the rifle was the same Bushmaster .223 rifle used in the sniper attacks, when it was not.

Prince William County Circuit Court Judge LeRoy F. Millette Jr. denied Mr. Greenspun’s request. Judge Millette also denied a defense request to allow their mental-health expert to testify about abuse Mr. Muhammad might have suffered as a child.

The defense wanted to present their expert during the sentencing phase of the trial if Mr. Muhammad is found guilty. But Mr. Muhammad has refused to cooperate with the prosecution’s mental-health expert, and the defense could not persuade the judge to work out a compromise.

Earlier yesterday, two Baton Rouge, La., women told jurors they saw Mr. Malvo running from the scene of Hong Im Ballenger’s shooting at 6:40 p.m. on Sept. 23. Their descriptions of Mr. Malvo’s clothing didn’t match, but they both said the young man took Mrs. Ballenger’s purse and was carrying a handgun.

Ingrid Shaw, a mother of two young children, told jurors she saw a blue Chevrolet Caprice pull out of its parking spot under some trees and pick up Mr. Malvo near the scene of Mrs. Ballenger’s fatal shooting.

Both suspects were arrested in a blue Caprice on Oct. 24 near Frederick, Md., and prosecutors have said the two used the car as a platform for many of their shootings. A forensics expert testified last week that Mrs. Ballenger was killed by a bullet from a high-powered rifle.

Henry Goines, a deacon at a Baton Rouge Baptist church, also told jurors he and his wife, who was Mr. Muhammad’s sixth-grade teacher, talked with the elder suspect about an hour after Mrs. Ballenger was shot. Mr. Muhammad told them he was in the import and export business.

“Out of the ordinary was that he mentioned he was doing well in life. My impression was that his dress did not indicate that,” Mr. Goines said.

Several members of Mr. Walekar’s extended family sat in the courtroom as the victim’s daughter, Andrea Walekar, 25, testified about the morning she learned her father was dead. After trying to call him on his cell phone, she woke her mother and they turned on the television.

“We both were watching TV, and then we saw his cab at the gas station,” Miss Walekar told jurors. The last time she saw her father was the night before the shooting when he asked her about her graduation from the University of Maryland.

Miss Walekar recently graduated after finishing her studies at home. She is working as a recruiter in Baltimore.

Jeffrey Miller, a crime-scene analyst from Fairfax, visited the scene of Mr. Walekar’s shooting in June. He said that if a shot was taken from across the street, through traffic on Connecticut Avenue, it “would have required a bit of coordination to make an accurate shot.”

A state medical examiner testified that Mr. Walekar was killed by “high-velocity ammunition” that showed the same “snowstorm effect” present in other sniper shootings where a high-powered rifle was used.

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