- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 28, 2003

VIRGINIA BEACH — Montgomery County Police Officer Cynthia Martin found a woman bleeding from the head and slumped on a bench near Leisure World in Silver Spring on the morning of Oct. 3, 2002.

When she asked a fellow officer why he was so distraught at the scene, he yelled at her, “Don’t you know? This is the third one this morning.”

Officer Martin’s account of victim Sarah Ramos’ shooting death provided some of the most gruesome testimony yesterday in the sniper trial of John Allen Muhammad.

Prince William County prosecutors presented evidence in the slaying of Mrs. Ramos, 34, Lori Lewis-Rivera, 25, and 72-year-old Pascal Charlot on Oct. 3 last year. They were the final victims during a 16-hour spree that day in which five persons were killed — four in Montgomery County and one in the District.

Mr. Muhammad is on trial in the Oct. 9, 2002, slaying of Dean Harold Meyers, 53, at a Manassas gas station. He also has been linked to 22 other shootings that year in the District and in seven states — Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia and Washington.

Mr. Muhammad has pleaded not guilty to two counts of capital murder — one under the state’s new antiterrorism statute and one for killing more than one person in three years. He also is charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of illegal use of a firearm.

The 13 random shootings in the Washington area started Oct. 2 and ended Oct. 22, with 10 persons dead and three others wounded.

Montgomery County police Officer Terry Ridgely testified yesterday he had “no idea what was going on” when he arrived at a Shell gas station in Kensington at about 10 a.m. Oct. 3 to help Mrs. Lewis-Rivera, the fourth victim that day.

“I felt like a sitting duck,” he said.

Paramedics who also were helping Mrs. Lewis-Rivera testified about being so unnerved about the shooting that they skipped strapping her body to a backboard, then ran to the ambulance to avoid being shot. Three witnesses recalled seeing a blue Chevy Caprice at crime scenes that looked similar to the one in which Mr. Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were arrested.

Mr. Malvo, 18, is scheduled for trial Nov. 10 in Chesapeake for the Oct. 14, 2002, death of Linda Franklin, the 47-year-old FBI analyst shot outside a Home Depot store in Falls Church.

Mr. Charlot was the final sniper victim Oct. 3. He was shot at about 9:20 p.m. while trying to cross Georgia Avenue in the District near the Montgomery County line.

Burnell Irby, a teacher and head football coach at Eastern High School, testified that he was at a laundromat washing his team’s uniforms when Mr. Charlot was killed.

“Once everybody realized what had happened, people started panicking,” he said. “One woman told her husband, ‘Let’s go. Let’s get in the car and go now.’”

Metropolitan Police officers arrived on the scene and told people, “Get out of here, get out of here. There’s a sniper on the loose,” Mr. Irby said.

Before the jury entered the courtroom yesterday, defense attorney Peter D. Greenspun asked Prince William Circuit Judge LeRoy F. Millette Jr. to stop the prosecution from playing audiotapes of 911 calls, to ensure photos of victims’ injuries did not stay on the display screen for long, and to tell prosecutors not to tell witnesses “good job” or shake their hands in front of the jury.

Judge Millette allowed the 911 calls to be played, but told prosecutors to avoid commending witnesses.

The defense seemed hopeful they could cover the events of Oct. 3 in one day of testimony, as they offered no cross-examination to many of the 24 witnesses summoned.

Shooting survivor Caroline Seawell, 43, who was shot in Fredericksburg, Va., on Oct. 4, also testified yesterday.

She said she never lost consciousness and that bystanders did not believe her when she told them she had been shot.

Testimony in the case is expected to continue today and be followed by testimony on the Oct. 7, 2002, shooting of 13-year-old Iran Brown at a Bowie school.

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