Wednesday, November 19, 2003

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Prosecutors in the capital murder trial of Lee Boyd Malvo yesterday presented graphic photographs of shooting victims and testimony from two survivors and witnesses who saw the defendant’s car at the scenes of last year’s sniper attacks.

One day after jurors had heard an audiotape recording of the teenage suspect saying he “intended to kill all” of the victims, sniper survivor Caroline Seawell described how she was shot in the back on Oct. 4, 2002, in the parking lot of a Michael’s craft store in Fredericksburg, Va.

“I felt a shooting pain through my right side and at the same time I heard a noise and realized I had been shot,” said Mrs. Seawell, 44. “I prayed to God that he not let me die because I have children.”

Fairfax County Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush overruled defense objections to showing crime-scene photos of Mrs. Seawell’s wounds. Prosecutors showed photos of the small entry wound on Mrs. Seawell’s lower, right back and the gaping exit wound under her right breast while she sat on the witness stand and recounted the shooting.

Mr. Malvo, wearing a yellow button-down shirt and white khaki pants, kept one hand over his mouth during most of the testimony. He appeared to look away from some of the more gruesome photographs.

“He is handling it as best as an 18-year-old can at this point,” defense attorney Craig S. Cooley said during a news conference yesterday evening.

Nearly all of yesterday’s witnesses had testified in the trial of John Allen Muhammad, who was convicted of murder, conspiracy and firearms charges in Virginia Beach. In fact, testimony and evidence in the Malvo trial has closely mirrored that in the Muhammad trial, which is in the sentencing phase.

However, Malvo prosecution witnesses have given briefer testimony than in Muhammad’s trial, where prosecutors relied more heavily on detailed, emotional testimony to sway the jury since they lacked the physical evidence and confessions that directly implicate Mr. Malvo in the killings.

The teenager faces two murder charges in the Oct. 14, 2002, slaying of Linda Franklin, 47, at a Falls Church Home Depot — one charge under Virginia’s antiterrorism law, the other under the state’s serial-killer law. He also is charged with illegal use of a firearm.

His attorneys have entered a not-guilty plea and are mounting an insanity defense, saying their client was “brainwashed” by Muhammad.

Muhammad and the teenage suspect are accused of the sniper attacks in the Washington area, in which 10 persons were killed and three wounded over three weeks in October 2002. The pair also are accused of nine other shootings, five fatal, in five states around the country last year.

Yesterday, Alex Jones, a retired New York City train operator who lives in Virginia, testified that he saw Mrs. Seawall shot in Fredericksburg and then saw the 1990 Chevrolet Caprice that has been linked to Mr. Malvo.

“There was a car leaving with [New] Jersey plates on it, and it sort of frightened me because the windows were blocked off,” Mr. Jones said.

Witnesses also placed a 1990 Caprice with darkly tinted windows and New Jersey license plates at the scene of the Oct. 3, 2002, fatal shooting of Pascal Charlot, 72, on Georgia Avenue NW in the District and the Oct. 11, 2002, fatal shooting of Kenneth H. Bridges, 53, at a gas station in Fredericksburg.

Earlier this week, witnesses placed the car at the scenes of shootings Oct. 3, 2002, that killed taxi driver Prem Kumar Walekar, 54, at a Rockville gas station; Sarah Ramos, 34, at a shopping center at Leisure World in Silver Spring; and Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera, 25, at a Kensington gas station.

The prosecution also presented as evidence ransom notes left at the Oct. 22, 2002, slaying of bus driver Conrad Johnson, 35, in Aspen Hill, and the Oct. 19, 2002, wounding of Jeffrey Hopper, 38, outside a steakhouse in Ashland, Va. Prosecutors also presented a bag of raisin snacks found near the note in Ashland and a glove and kit bag found near the Aspen Hill note, both of which prosecutors plan to link to Mr. Malvo.

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