- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 1, 2006

1:17 p.m.

ROCKVILLE — A Montgomery County judge this morning sentenced sniper mastermind John Allen Muhammad to six consecutive life sentences for his part in the 2002 sniper shootings.

“You came into this county and randomly murdered innocent and defenseless people. You would have murdered more people, but you got caught,” Circuit Judge James L. Ryan said.

“The citizens have, to the best of their ability, recovered and will continue to recover. … They have hope for the future,” he said. “But you, Mr. Muhammad, have no hope, no future.” Muhammad said nothing but looked at the judge with his arms crossed.

Judge Ryan then ordered the sheriffs deputies, “on the behalf of the people of this county, to remove Mr. Muhammad from this courtroom, this county, and this state.” As Muhammad was handcuffed and led out, family members of sniper victims and onlookers broke into applause.

A jury convicted Muhammad of the six shootings on Tuesday. Muhammad and his accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, shot 13 people in three weeks, killing 10 and wounding three.

States Attorney Douglas F. Gansler said Muhammad, 45, will be shipped back to Virginia “within 48 hours.” Mr. Gansler chose not to seek the death penalty. However, in 2003, a Virginia Beach jury sentenced Muhammad to death for planning and coordinating the sniper spree.

Montgomery County corrections officers will take Muhammad to Sussex State Prisons death row, where, according to a spokesman for the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, he will be executed as soon as three years from now. Muhammad has exhausted his direct state and federal appeals in that case, but habeas corpus appeals still remain.

A federal law enforcement official, however, said Muhammad will be “moved to the front of the line.” Before the judge imposed his sentence, four family members of victims spoke in court about their loss.

“The day Conrad died, a piece of me went with him,” said Sonia Wills, the mother of Conrad Johnson, who was shot and killed on Oct. 22, 2002. “Ill never get over Conrad.” Mrs. Wills addressed Muhammad directly.

“I refuse to call your name, sir. You took my son, sir, in the hopes that you would snatch your children,” she said. “You are the devils advocate. You will never see or hear of your children again.” Muhammad looked down as the family members spoke, reading papers.

“Its a shame you cannot look at us to see the lives you have devastated, the lives you have ruined,” Mrs. Wills said.

Ola Martin, whose brother James D. Martin was the first Montgomery County sniper victim, talked about how her little brother had traveled from St. Louis to Atlanta after Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968.

Mr. Martin went to Kings home and shook the hand of his widow, Coretta Scott King, Mrs. Martin said. She emphasized her brothers belief in “respect and courtesy” for all people.

“Jim spent his life fighting for the rights of others, and yet this coward, this bully, this cold-blooded killer, robbed him of all his rights,” Mrs. Martin said.

During the trial, Malvo, 21, testified that Muhammad hates the United States and believes that “the white man is the devil.” Malvo also called the man who was once a father figure for him a “coward” who pulled the trigger in 10 of the 13 shootings.

Malvo has signed a plea agreement and will be transferred back to Red Onion State Prison in Southwestern Virginia once he has been sentenced. Prosecutors are asking for a sentence identical to Muhammads.

A Chesapeake, Va., jury in 2003 found Malvo guilty of the sniper shootings and sentenced him to life in prison without parole.

“I am not proud of myself, and Im just trying to make amends, if possible,” Malvo said when asked why he testified.

The six victims killed in Montgomery County are:

James D. Martin, 55, government analyst, shot and killed on Oct. 2, at 6:04 p.m., outside a Shoppers Food Warehouse in Wheaton.

James L. “Sonny” Buchanan, 39, landscaper, shot and killed on Oct. 3, at 7:40 a.m., while mowing grass in White Flint.

Premkumar A. Walekar, 54, cab driver, shot and killed on Oct. 3, at 8:12 a.m., while pumping gas in Aspen Hill.

Sarah Ramos, 34, housekeeper, shot and killed on Oct. 3, at 8:37 a.m., while sitting on a bench in Silver Spring.

Lori Lewis Rivera, 25, mother and homemaker, shot and killed on Oct. 3, at 9:58 a.m., while vacuuming a minivan in Kensington.

Conrad E. Johnson, 35, bus driver, shot and killed on Oct. 22, at 5:55 a.m., on his Ride-On bus in Aspen Hill.

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