- The Washington Times - Monday, May 22, 2006

A laptop computer found in sniper John Allen Muhammad’s car held maps plotting routes to shootings and homicide scenes denoted by a skull and crossbones, including one with the comment “good one,” an FBI computer analyst said yesterday.

John Hair told jurors hearing six murder charges against Muhammad from the October 2002 shootings that the digital maps had marked locations ranging from Maryland to North Carolina. Some had notations such as “good spot” and “possible hit.”

The “good one” skull and crossbones marked the Home Depot in Falls Church, where FBI analyst Linda Franklin was shot in the head Oct. 14, 2002. The .223-caliber bullet used in the shooting was linked to the Bushmaster rifle found in Muhammad’s Chevrolet Caprice when he and accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo were arrested Oct. 24, 2002.

Mr. Hair’s testimony came as prosecutors presented evidence from the laptop, an electronic organizer and a voice recorder found in the Caprice. The laptop computer and its maps were introduced as evidence in Muhammad’s trial in Virginia in 2003.

The organizer included a file that listed “People to die later,” which included names from two radio stations, an FBI tip line staffer and people at CNN.

A Montgomery County police officer who answered a cryptic call from the snipers was also named. The file said the officer was “first resipiant of the Muhamma.ad negotiations.” During the three-week rampage, police received several calls and found notes at shooting scenes demanding money to end the killings.

Muhammad, who is acting as his own attorney, challenged the validity of the records, implying they might have been planted or altered by authorities to implicate him. He asked one FBI agent whether the electronic organizercould have been hacked or changed.

“How hard would it be for someone to put that on that organizer?” he asked.

Prosecutors are nearing the end of their case against Muhammad for six of the 13 Washington-area sniper shootings in October 2002.

Malvo is expected to testify against Muhammad and could take the stand as early as today, according to a person close to the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the trial is ongoing. Malvo is likely to plead guilty to the same six slayings that Muhammad is charged with.

Muhammad is already on death row in Virginia for a sniper killing there, and Malvo is serving a life term for two other Virginia sniper deaths. The pair is also linked to earlier shootings in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland and Washington state.

Despite the earlier conviction, Muhammad steadfastly maintains his innocence, saying he will prove that he and Malvo had no role in the sniper killings.

So far, his defense strategy revolves around showing that no one actually saw him or Malvo fire the fatal shots. He suggests that much of the evidence against him was planted by authorities to frame him. Yesterday, he said that “FBI, CIA, every acronym in law enforcement” were involved in the case against him.

Muhammad also says he is not getting a fair trial. He complained to Circuit Judge James Ryan yesterday morning that prosecutors were trying to limit his defense by quashing his subpoena of a witness.

If the state continues interfering with his defense, Muhammad told Judge Ryan, “You don’t need me. You can send me the verdict in the mail. The way it’s going, that might as well happen.”

• AP writer Matthew Barakat contributed to this report.


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