- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 9, 2006

The boy who was wounded by a sniper 3 years ago appeared in court in Montgomery County yesterday, now a young man, to face the man accused of trying to kill him.

“I’m pretty much back to normal,” said Iran Brown, now 17 and about 6 feet tall.

Iran testified at the second trial of John Allen Muhammad, who has been convicted and sentenced to death in Virginia for masterminding some of the 2002 sniper shootings that killed 10 and wounded three.

Iran was 13 on Oct. 7, 2002, when he was hit in the abdomen outside Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie, becoming the seventh victim in the shooting spree.

“I was in pain. I couldn’t breathe. And I was scared,” Iran told jurors. Muhammad, 45, looked at the teenager without expression.

Iran, who said he hopes to play basketball for Duke University, glanced furtively at Muhammad when the defendant, who is representing himself in the trial, turned to confer with his standby attorneys.

He is now the same age as Muhammad’s purported accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, at the time of the shootings.

Iran’s uncle Jerome Brown was upset that the teen had to testify again about the shootings after having to testify at Muhammad’s first trial in 2003.

“How many times do we have to relive this nightmare? How many life sentences do we need?” Mr. Brown said.

The sixth shooting victim, Caroline Seawell, took the stand earlier yesterday.

Muhammad chose to cross-examine the woman, but not Iran.

Mrs. Seawell, 47, told jurors how she had been shot while placing a wreath and a scarecrow in her minivan outside a Michaels crafts store in Spotsylvania County, Va.

“As I was slamming the door down, I felt a pain in my back and the front, and at approximately the same time I heard something hit the car,” Mrs. Seawell said.

“I immediately realized I had been shot,” she said. “I dropped to the ground and prayed that God would let me live so that I could take care of my kids.”

During his brief cross-examination, Muhammad asked standby attorney Russel A. Neverdon to stand in front of Mrs. Seawell and re-create the direction she was facing when she was shot.

Muhammad was convicted in his first trial of capital murder and masterminding the shootings, and a Virginia Beach jury sentenced him to death.

Malvo, now 21, also has been convicted. A Chesapeake jury sentenced him to life in prison without parole.

At Muhammad’s first trial, Iran told jurors that being shot brought him “closer to God.”

After the shooting, panicked parents rushed to pick up their children from school.

Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose, who was the public face of the sniper investigation, teared up at a press conference afterward. “Someone is so mean-spirited that they shot a child,” Chief Moose said. “Shooting a kid — I guess it’s getting to be really, really personal now.”

The snipers left notes for police that said, “Your children are not safe.”

Montgomery County officials say this second trial will provide insurance in case Muhammad’s Virginia conviction is overturned, and that it will provide closure for the Maryland victims’ relatives.

The trial is in its second week and is expected to last another month. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.

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