- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 1, 2006

A Montgomery County judge yesterday sentenced sniper John Allen Muhammad to six consecutive life sentences for his role in the 2002 shootings that terrorized the D.C. metropolitan area.

“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 to Muhammad, the mastermind of the shootings.

“The citizens have, to the best of their ability, recovered and will continue to recover,” he said. “But you, Mr. Muhammad, have no hope, no future.” Muhammad, 45, said nothing but looked at the judge with his arms crossed.

As Muhammad was handcuffed and led out of the Rockville courtroom, family members of the sniper victims and onlookers broke into applause.

Muhammad and his accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, shot 13 persons in three weeks, killing 10 and wounding three. A jury Tuesday convicted Muhammad of the six murders that occurred in Montgomery County.

In 2003, a Virginia Beach jury sentenced Muhammad to death for the slaying of Dean Harold Meyers.

State’s Attorney Douglas F. Gansler said Muhammad will be shipped back to Virginia “within 48 hours.” Mr. Gansler chose not to seek the death penalty for the killings, instead gaining multiple life sentences with no possibility of parole as insurance in case the Virginia death sentence is ever overturned.

Muhammad now heads back to Sussex State Prison’s death row, where, according to a spokesman for the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, he could 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, family members of victims spoke in court about their loss.

Nelson Rivera, whose wife, Lori-Ann Lewis Rivera, was gunned down at a Kensington gas station, said his daughter says she wants to die so that she can be reunited with her mother.

“He not only killed my wife, he killed me, he killed my daughter and all the rest of the family,” an emotional Mr. Rivera said.

“The day Conrad died, a piece of me went with him,” said Sonia Wills, the mother of Conrad E. Johnson, who was fatally shot on Oct. 22, 2002. “I’ll never get over Conrad,” Mrs. Wills said, addressing 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 devil’s advocate. You will never see or hear of your children again.” Muhammad looked down as the family members spoke.

“It’s 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, emphasized her brother’s 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, called the man who was once a father figure for him a “coward” who pulled the trigger in 10 of the 13 shootings.

Malvo also testified that Muhammad hates the United States and believes that “the white man is the devil.”

Malvo has signed a plea agreement and will be transferred back to Red Onion State Prison in Southwestern Virginia once he has been sentenced.

A Chesapeake, Va., jury in 2003 found Malvo guilty of his role in the Meyers murder and sentenced him to life in prison with no parole possibility.

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

The six victims killed in Montgomery County were:

• James D. Martin, 55, government analyst, fatally shot on Oct. 2, at 6:02 p.m., outside a Shoppers Food Warehouse in Wheaton.

• James L. “Sonny” Buchanan, 39, landscaper, fatally shot on Oct. 3, at 7:41 a.m., while mowing grass in White Flint.

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

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

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

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

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