- The Washington Times - Friday, May 5, 2006

Convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad is acting as his own attorney in Montgomery County, where he is charged with six of the sniper killings in October 2002. Yesterday, he presented his opening argument to the jury in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

This is a transcript of his comments.

Good afternoon ladies and gentleman, my name is, uh[…] I don’t think I need to tell you my name, but my name is John Allen Muhammad. And for the first time, you’re going to get a chance to hear my side. Everything has two sides. You’ve heard one side already.

But before I get started, pertaining to that, I just want to say thanks for this opportunity for me to be here, and for me to get a chance to represent myself. I thank the judge for that. And I thank these magnificent people who decided to aid me and assist me in my defense.

People, every morning I get up, I have two options. I can choose to cry, or I can choose to fight. I thought about crying, but when I get finished crying, I realize, I’m still going to be here. I’m still going to be in this mess. So I choose to fight. The code of conduct tells me, when I was in the military, that we would continue to fight as long as we had the means to fight, and when we no longer had the means to fight, we would aid and abet those who do have the means to fight. A person who has been made a slave against their will, and they are innocent, they don’t give up their rights to be free. So I haven’t given up my rights to be free. That’s why I represent myself. I choose to fight every morning I get up.

Every morning in Africa, a lioness wakes up and she knows that she has to be twice as fast as a gazelle to survive, or she would die. Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up knowing that she must be twice as fast as a lion to survive, or she would die. People, the moral of the story is, every morning we wake up, we should know what it takes for us to survive, or we will die. I woke up this morning knowing that I needed to come into this courtroom and fight for my life to survive, or I would die. It’s that simple people. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Now, the prosecutor went back to ‘02. I want to take you back two years prior so we can put things in context. See, context is the part just before and after the passage that determines or describes the meaning of what was said. So I want to take you back to ‘00, more specifically May 1. May 1. It’s my little girl’s birthday, Taalibah[NOTE]cq[NOTE], my heart. We’re in the Caribbean, doing what we always do on her birthday, having fun. And we’re at the beach. They’re playing. John is in the water. Taalibah and Salena [are] playing. And I hear a loud cry, and she’s yelling. Salena’s yelling. “Daddy! Daddy!” And I break and run. She said, “John! John! John! He’s drowning.” And I hit the water, and I looked for him. I lost him. I had lost him. I was running out of air, but I can’t go up, and I’m fighting, that I’m about to lose my child.

And something happened. A wave came in. And it twisted his body. And the star and crescent around his neck, the sun hit it, he was right in front of me. And I grabbed him. And I brought him back up. I took him to shore. He had stopped breathing. Water was in his lungs. I pumped the water out of his lungs. He came through and started coughing. And my little girls, Salena and Taalibah […] it’s a little boy, and he asked me this question. He says, “If a shark woulda had John, would you had awent and got him?” And Salena and Taalibah pushed him down and kicked him, and says, “If a shark woulda had little John, he’d abeen in trouble, cuz my daddy’s a soldier, and he knows how to fight.” At that time, John slapped me. My son had never hit me before. He slapped me. I said, “Son why’d you slap me?” He said, “Daddy what took you so long?” I said, “I had to swallow the Atlantic Ocean to find young little buck.” And he reached up and grabbed me and held me. He said, “Daddy, I knew you was coming.”

We left that beach that day, and I was terrified that I almost lost my child. We moved forward, another year, ‘01, same time, same day. I’m not in the Caribbean anymore. My childrens[NOTE]cq[NOTE] are, but I’m not. They’re on the beach again, with their nanny, doing what they normally do. It was just a regular day. John hit the water. Same beach, same time. May 1. He almost lose his life again. I’m not there, but the nanny’s there. She hit the water and tried to save him. While swimming, she almost lost her life. And at that time, my little girl Salena yelled to somebody. I wasn’t there. She yelled for Lee, my son, Lee Boyd Malvo. Lee hit that water, pulled her out, and she said, “John, John is in the water.” Lee went back and pulled John out.

When I came back, my little angels told me what happened. And they wanted to make Lee their big brother. And ever since then, I swore an allegiance to my son Lee Boyd Malvo and my children, that I would always protect him, and protect them the same way I would protect him. And we always had it that way. We love him.

Now we’re in August. August 30, ‘01. We all back in America now. My little angel get up at night, like she normally do. And she said, “Dad, I got to go to the restroom.” I take her to the restroom. As we come back from the restroom, I put her in my arms. It’s just another night for Muhammad and his children. And I pick her up, I get ready to lay her down and she ask me a question. I never thought it would be the last time I would ever talk to her. She said, “Daddy, can we pray, for — can we pray — for Al and Mary?” I said, “Of course we can sweetheart. We always do.” She said, “No, Daddy.” I said, “What are you talking about sweetheart?” She said, “They’re not like us Daddy.” I said, “Man, I know I’m not teaching my children to be racist,” because Al and Mary was white. And I said, “Sweetheart, what do you mean?” She said, “They’re not Muslims like us Daddy.” I said, “OK.” I said, “What is a Muslim?” She said, “One who submits their will to do God’s will.” I said, “Would you say Mary and Al have submitted their will to do God’s will, to help us?” She said, “Yeah.” I said, “So what would you call them?” And she thought for a moment. She said, “Hmm. Christian Muslims.” I said, “That’s good.” So we prayed that night. It’s just another night.

And when we got finished praying she crawled in my arms, and I looked at her. I said, “Who is this little girl, to where even in her subconscious state she would think about people? To where she would pray for them. Who is Al and Mary, to where they have affected her to a degree to where she thinks about them in a subconscious state?” It’s just another night. We wake up. August 1. For me — Correction. August 31. For me, August 31 was my September 11. We woke up like another morning. Got em dressed, ready for school. Me and John escorted them to school. Put them on the bus, gave em a kiss, made plans for that day. Came back, me and John went back, and I escorted him to school. We had plans for that day. It was just another day.

Three o’clock in the evening, I went back by the school, to get my child. But the teacher said the principal wanted to talk to me, and I talked to the principal. And she said she was sad. She had empathy in her voice. She had empathy in her face and everything. She said, “John is not here.” I said, “Where is he?” She said, “A policeman came down.” And she was so sad. She was very respectful, humble, courteous, and she was very upset. She said, “I tried to keep him, but they came and took him.” And I ran about three miles to the other school where Salena and Taaliba were. They came and took him. And at that time, it terrified me, and my mind went back to when we was in the Caribbean and that ocean almost took John. Before I came back to America, the nanny told me, “Keep em close John. Something is trying to get them. Keep em close.” I came back to America, and I lost my children. And then I went on a search to start looking for my children.

As I left the school, sad, and determined to find where my children are, I passed a field where we would play. And at that time, I couldn’t be strong, I couldn’t be brave, I couldn’t be anything anymore except humble. It’s like every ounce of energy in me was just gone. My magnificent body, my strong legs could not hold me no more. And I just collapsed. Because it had hit me, that my children was in that water. And I didn’t save them. And I was going farther and farther away from that water, and I didn’t have them. But I had to get myself up and start breathing again, cuz I had stopped breathing. I just coughed. Because something was wrong. I didn’t have my children anymore. So I had to start looking for my children.

And as I start looking for my children, the West Coast I looked, I called on every resource that I know to try to find out where my children are. Because they had left, once the courts had gave the children to their mother, and I went looking for my children, upon the court order, to find them and bring them back to stay at Washington [state].

And I looked, and I looked, and I looked. But I couldn’t find them. And then finally, I got another number. I got another address, after four, or five, or six different addresses of looking, throughout America, I finally came to this area. I came to this area, looking for my children. We did something different this time. Normally I would go straight to the address, eager to go and find my children. And it was very disappointing, because when I get there, they wasn’t there. And then I had to circle the area to start checking the area, and start checking the area, and then go back and try to get more information. But when we came to this area, I said, “We’re not going to do that. We’re going to hold the address, and that’s our last hope. They may be there. We’re going to circle the area, and check the area, and check the area, and see can we find them. And when all hope has failed we’ll try the address.” During that time, we’re here. We are everywhere, in every aspect of the word, we are everywhere, looking for my children. During that time, these things are going on. I told him. I told him.

[October] 24th. All hell opened up. About one o’clock in the morning I’m dragged from the car. My son is dragged from the car. He’s screaming and yelling. We’re trying to figure out what’s going on. And before we know it, I’m in Maryland. And now I’m before you all, trying to explain to you all, what the evidence is going to show. There’s much the evidence is going to show. The evidence is going to show that John Allen Muhammad is innocent. The evidence is going to show you that my son, Lee Boyd Malvo, is innocent. The evidence is going to show you [unintelligible]. It’s going to show you a lot. It’s going to show you quantum physics. It’s going to show you immaterial evidence. It’s going to show you material evidence. But what the evidence will not show you, that these people will prove to you, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Muhammad is guilty of these crimes. The evidence is not going to show you that.

I’ve been called many different things. I’ve been called things in this courtroom today. I’ve been called evil. I’ve been called wicked. I’ve been called a lot. The word evil means morally bad, harmful. Anything that cause harm to a human being. I used to be called Brother John, Daddy, Uncle, friend. Now I’m called evil. It doesn’t matter, people. It doesn’t matter at all. It doesn’t matter what they call me. What matters is what I answer to. And I answer to dignity and respect. And in a little while, I’m going to call them a couple names, and I hope they don’t catch the way they throw. The evidence is going to show you a lot, people. But the evidence is also going to ask you something. It’s going to ask you something.

If you go to John, Chapter 7, and verse 50 and 51, the enemies amongst Jesus were plotting and planning on how they was going to manipulate words to convince the people that he had committed a crime he didn’t do. And one of the wise ones among them — which one are you all are one of the wise ones — his name was Nicodemus. And Nicodemus asked this question. And this is the same question the evidence is going to ask you all. He said, “Does our law condemn a person first before we have heard and know what he has been doing?” The word know implies having direct knowledge of the subject at hand, directing, seeing of what is going on. That’s what the judge was asking you all. And many of you all said you made up your, uh — you had an opinion. And he asked you, “Could you put aside your opinion, and judge, based on what you know of the facts pertaining to the principle allegation of this case?” That’s what Nicodemus was saying. He said, “Does our law condemn a person first before we have heard and know what he has been doing?”

I ask you all, people, does our law, the Constitution of the United States of America, condemn a person first before we have heard and know what he has been doing? Plato said, “It is by justice we measure the value of humans.” “The absence of justice,” he said, “it is the absence of what makes us humans.” Or are we humans? Thank you, your honor.

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