- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 24, 2006

John Allen Muhammad, acting as his own attorney in a Rockville courtroom, questioned the sanity yesterday of his accomplice in the October 2002 shooting spree that left 10 persons dead in the Washington area, but Lee Boyd Malvo stood his ground.

“I was there. He was there. And I know what we both did,” Malvo testified.

In 10 hours of testimony over two days, Malvo said he helped Muhammad shoot 13 persons during a three-week spree in October 2002, but that Muhammad pulled the trigger on all but three shootings.

Assistant State’s Attorney Katherine Winfree asked Malvo, 21, why he said Muhammad treated him differently than his own children.

“Mr. Muhammad did not use any of his children to murder innocent people,” Malvo said.

Muhammad cross-examined Malvo for four hours.

The prosecution called Malvo as its final witness in the case against Muhammad, who is charged with six murders.

Muhammad, 45, clashed often with Malvo and Ms. Winfree. He grew agitated when Malvo defied him or when Ms. Winfree challenged his questions, at one point even objecting to “any statements” from Ms. Winfree. Malvo volunteered to testify and pleaded guilty to the six killings instead of facing trial.

“I am not proud of myself, and I’m just trying to make amends, if possible,” Malvo said Tuesday.

Muhammad suspected Malvo was receiving benefits in exchange for testimony.

“You made a plea deal with no benefit to you at all?” Muhammad asked.

“That’s correct,” said Malvo, wearing a dark blue jacket and white button-down shirt, the same as he wore Tuesday.

Muhammad’s questions skipped from topic to topic and from crime to crime, going back over minute details of each crime scene. He went into great detail about firearms, trying to show that he could not have trained Malvo to shoot.

“Give me the six characteristics of an M-16,” Muhammad commanded Malvo.

Malvo said Muhammad never taught him the “names for things,” but simply instructed him how to use the high-powered rifle used in the shootings.

Muhammad also tried to show that he is not a racist. Malvo had testified that Muhammad thinks “the white man is the devil.” Muhammad called Malvo “son” several times, despite a warning from the court not to do so. When Malvo was 15, Muhammad took the boy, abandoned by own parents, “under his wing.”

After Muhammad called him “son” several times, Malvo asked him to stop. Muhammad did it again a moment later, prompting a reprimand from Circuit Court Judge James L. Ryan.

Muhammad has been convicted in Virginia of masterminding the sniper shootings. A Virginia Beach jury sentenced him to death in 2003.

Malvo was convicted by a Chesapeake, Va., jury for his part in the shootings and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Authorities say Muhammad’s second trial will provide insurance in case his Virginia conviction is overturned on appeal.

After Muhammad began his case late in the day, calling his first three witnesses, he complained that police detectives were “intimidating” his witnesses.

His first witness, Juana Richa, was several feet from the sniper’s first victim, James Martin, on Oct. 2, 2002. She said she heard the shot come from the Shoppers Food Warehouse.

Malvo said Muhammad shot Mr. Martin from the opposite direction.

As Muhammad questioned his second witness, she did not remember many of the things. Muhammad became so frustrated with her that he asked the judge whether he could treat her “as a hostile witness.” Muhammad then asked the woman, Mariana Rodriguez, whether she was a citizen of the United States. The judge blocked the question.

His third witness was a landscaper who was cutting grass near Leisure World on Oct. 3, 2002, when Sarah Ramos, 34, was fatally shot.

The man said he saw a white box truck leave the scene of the crime.

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