- The Washington Times - Friday, May 26, 2006

The jury in John Allen Muhammad’s second trial will begin deliberating Tuesday after hearing the convicted sniper mastermind use his closing statement yesterday to rant for more than three hours, claiming he was framed.

“My case is based on one thing. It’s very simple. They lied,” Muhammad said, raising his voice frequently as he cited the Bible and the Koran.

Muhammad, 45, represented himself during this four-week trial, charged with six counts of capital murder stemming from the October 2002 sniper spree that terrorized the D.C. region.

Throughout the trial Muhammad claimed that he was innocent, even though a Virginia Beach jury sentenced him to death in 2003 for his role in the shootings.

“Is when a person stands before you, and shows no remorse — as I’ve done — is that how we know they’re guilty?” Muhammad said yesterday. “You will not see any remorse on me unless I’ve done something wrong.”

Assistant State’s Attorney Katherine Winfree was visibly annoyed during her rebuttal.

“This is a man who is angry at the world,” Ms. Winfree said.

“He’s told you everything but the truth. Nothing this man says is believable,” she said. “His theory is a conspiracy.”

Nearly two hours into his statement Muhammad asked the jury if they wanted a break.

“There’s a whole lot here, and I’m not trying to rush through this,” Muhammad said. “As soon as I sit down, that’s it. I’m done.”

Ms. Winfree asked Circuit Court Judge James L. Ryan to limit the length of Muhammad’s statement.

“Your honor, believe it or not, I’m really rushing through this,” Muhammad told the judge. “I probably have about three or four more hours.”

“I’m not going to allow you to go that long,” Judge Ryan said.

During his closing statement, Muhammad pointed out that the jury had seen no evidence of gunpowder inside the trunk of the car authorities say was used in the shootings, or of hair grease on the car where authorities say Muhammad climbed into the trunk to shoot.

“I use hair grease,” Muhammad said. “There would have been hair grease everywhere.”

Ms. Winfree said numerous times that Muhammad was “misstating the evidence.”

Muhammad also pointed out several minor contradictions between what his accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, said in his testimony this week and what other witnesses said.

In 2003, a Chesapeake, Va., jury found Malvo guilty and sentenced him to life in prison without parole. He has pleaded guilty to the six Montgomery County slayings for which Muhammad is being tried.

Malvo once considered Muhammad a father figure, but said this week in court that Muhammad is a “coward” who pulled the trigger in 10 of the 13 shootings.

Muhammad, who was found guilty of “brainwashing” Malvo during his 2003 trial, said prosecutors had “thoroughly indoctrinated” the younger man, now 21, to testify against him.

In the prosecution’s one-hour closing statement, Assistant State’s Attorney Vivek Chopra walked jurors through the massive amount of evidence against Muhammad, and underscored the terror created by the shootings.

“This man considers himself a god. Yes, he considers himself a god. He made godlike decisions for those people,” Mr. Chopra said, pointing at pictures of the sniper’s victims.

Mr. Chopra said Muhammad was seen “over and over” at the scene of the sniper shootings.

“The long hand of this pathetic man, certainly not a god, did not travel unnoticed,” Mr. Chopra said.

During the trial, Muhammad presented little evidence to exonerate himself, but tried to cast doubt on eyewitness accounts and complained that the court did not allow him to call the 150 witnesses he wanted.

Muhammad ended up calling nine witnesses. All but one of them did not want to testify.

Authorities brought Muhammad for trial in Maryland in case his Virginia conviction is overturned on appeal.

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