- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 18, 2006

An FBI forensic specialist said yesterdaythat John Allen Muhammad’s DNA matched samples taken from the sight of a Bushmaster rifle used in the October 2002 sniper killings and was a possible match for DNA from other sniper evidence.

Muhammad’s DNA was found on the sight, which was in a duffel bag in Muhammad’s Chevrolet Caprice when he and Lee Boyd Malvo were arrested Oct. 24, 2002, after the three-week shooting spree, DNA specialist Brendan Shea said.

Muhammad’s DNA was also a potential match for some of the genetic material found on the butt of the Bushmaster rifle stock, as well as a pen and a bag of raisins from two shooting scenes. Malvo’s DNA was recovered from several spots on the gun.

The testimony came as prosecutors began building their scientific case against Muhammad in the six sniper killings that occurred in Montgomery County. Jurors already have heard details about those six crimes, along with four other sniper deaths and three woundings in the D.C. area.

Muhammad, who is acting as his own lawyer, continued his aggressive questioning of witnesses yesterday morning. He bombarded Mr. Shea with questions, sometimes demanding just a yes or no answer, as he tried to discredit the investigator’s forensic results. At one point, Muhammad and Assistant State’s Attorney Vivek Chopra shouted at each other as Mr. Chopra tried to object.

Muhammad suggested the tests may be flawed, saying authorities did not “take away” DNA samples from Muhammad and Malvo to compare to the evidence until several weeks after Mr. Shea said he conducted his comparisons. Muhammad implied the samples Mr. Shea used for the tests, just days after the arrest, were not his.

“Isn’t it true that if you did not have my DNA on that day, you could not have tested it?” Muhammad asked. Mr. Shea said the sample he had was labeled as Muhammad’s.

During the nearly three weeks of this trial, Muhammad has demonstrated some ability as a defense lawyer, questioning witnesses, offering exhibits and conducting his own opening statement. He fired his own attorneys in March, but has assistance from three standby attorneys.

But as prosecutors have introduced more conclusive evidence — such as the Bushmaster, the Caprice and the DNA evidence — his questioning has become at times tedious, confusing and hostile. He dwells over the minutiae of forensic reports, often repeating his questions and befuddling witnesses. Prosecutors repeatedly object, and Circuit Judge James Ryan usually cuts Muhammad short.

Muhammad already has been convicted and sentenced to death in Virginia for killing Dean Harold Meyers at a Manassas gas station. In all, 10 persons were killed and three wounded.

Malvo is serving a life term for killing Linda Franklin at the Home Depot in Falls Church. He also is charged in the six Montgomery County killings but will likely plead guilty and testify against Muhammad.

The pair also are suspected of earlier shootings in Maryland, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana and Washington state.

Associated Press writer Matthew Barakat contributed to this article.

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