- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Two police officers who came upon convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad in the midst of his 2002 killing spree confronted him again yesterday in court.

Steven Bailey, a police officer in Prince William County, Va., refused to back down when questioned aggressively by Muhammad, who is acting as his own lawyer.

Officer Bailey said he was certain that he saw Muhammad and his dark blue Chevrolet Caprice leaving a restaurant parking lot near a shooting at a gas station in Manassas on Oct. 9. 2002. Officer Bailey allowed Muhammad to leave without taking down his name or license plate as irate and scared customers demanded to be let out from the parking lot.

“I have no doubt in my mind,” Officer Bailey testified about seeing Muhammad in the parking lot.

Outside court, Officer Bailey said Muhammad’s efforts to poke holes in prosecutors’ case are desperate.

“He’s fishing. He doesn’t have a clue. He’s stuck,” he said.

A Baltimore officer, James Snyder, also testified that he saw Muhammad sleeping in his car in a gas station parking lot in the early morning hours of Oct. 8, 2002. He ran checks on Muhammad’s driver’s license and car and let him go after everything came up clean.

Officer Snyder’s encounter with Muhammad came a day after 13-year-old Iran Brown was shot outside Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie.

The teenager’s aunt, Tanya Brown, told jurors yesterday how she frantically scooped up her nephew moments after he was shot. Iran, who survived, was the eighth person shot in six days during the sniper spree that lasted for three weeks in October 2002.

“Oh my God! We’ve got to hurry!” Miss Brown said on a recording of the 911 phone call she made as she raced to a nearby medical center. “Goodness gracious! Iran, hold it down.”

A woman identified by Iran’s family as his mother sobbed heavily as the tape was played and fled the Montgomery County Circuit courtroom. Muhammad sat with his chin in his hand. He did not ask Miss Brown questions.

Iran Brown and Caroline Seawell, another sniper victim who survived, testified Tuesday.

The jury also saw the tarot card — specifically, the death card — left at the scene by the snipers. Written on the back were the words “For you Mr. Police — Code ‘Call Me God’ — Do Not release to the Press.” The card served as the snipers’ first attempt to open a dialogue with police and extort a $10 million ransom to stop the killings.

Already on death row in Virginia for the sniper killing in Manassas, Muhammad faces potential life in prison if convicted in Montgomery County. Maryland prosecutors bill the second case as insurance, although they have been criticized over its cost and whether it is necessary to reopen emotional wounds suffered by victims’ families.

Prosecutors are building a chronological case against Muhammad, presenting the shootings along the timeline from the first the evening of Oct. 2 to the last the morning of Oct. 22. In all, Muhammad and accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo are linked to 10 killings and three woundings in the Washington area. The pair was also tied to killings in Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama and Washington state.

In Montgomery County, both are charged with killing James D. Martin, Premkumar A. Walekar, James L. “Sonny” Buchanan, Sarah Ramos, Lori-Ann Lewis Rivera and Conrad E. Johnson.

• AP writer Stephen Manning contributed to this report.

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