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John Allen MUHAMMAD

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "The Beltway Sniper"
 
Classification: Spree killer
Characteristics: Sniper attacks
Number of victims: 10 +
Date of murders: September-October 2002
Date of arrest: October 24, 2002
Date of birth: December 31, 1960
Victims profile: James Martin, 55 / James Buchanan, 39 / Premkumar Walekar, 54 / Sarah Ramos, 34 / Lori A. Lewis-Rivera, 25 / Pascal Charlot, 72 / Dean Harold Meyers, 53 / Kenneth Bridges, 53 / Linda Franklin, 47 / Conrad Johnson, 35
Method of murder: Shooting (high powered rifle)
Location: Washington, D.C./Maryland/Virginia, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Virginia on November 10, 2009
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Muhammad v. Commonwealth, 611 S.E. 2d 537 (Va. 2005)
 
 
Muhammad v. Warden of Sussex I State Prison, 646 S.E. 2d 182 (Va. 2007)
 
 
Muhammad v. Kelly, 575 F.3d 359 (4th Cir. 2009)
 
 
Muhammad v. State, 934 A.2d 1059 (Md.App. 2007)
 
 
 
 
 
 
timeline
 
 
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Summary:

John Allen Muhammad along with his 17 year old partner, Lee Boyd Malvo, carried out the 2002 D.C. sniper attacks, killing 10 people and wounding several others in the Washinton area. Most of the shootings were made with a high powered rifle from inside the trunk of Muhammad's vehicle, which had been modified with heavy window tint, a hinged rear seat that provided easy access to the trunk from the passenger compartment, and a hole that had been cut into the trunk lid just above the license plate.

Born John Allen Williams, Muhammad joined the Nation of Islam in 1987 and later changed his surname to Muhammad. Drawings by Malvo describe the murders as part of a "jihad." A soldier-turned-auto-mechanic, Mr. Muhammad held a deep grudge against his ex-wife and society. During the Maryland trial, Mr. Malvo testified that the intent of their shooting spree had been to create havoc to cover for Mr. Muhammad’s plans to kidnap his three children. The longer-term goal was to extort law enforcement into giving them money to stop the shootings. Mr. Muhammad planned to take the money and move to Canada with Mr. Malvo and his three children.

His trial for one of the murders (the murder of Dean Harold Meyers in Prince William County, Virginia) began in October 2003, and the following month, he was found guilty of capital murder. Four months later he was sentenced to death. While awaiting execution in Virginia, in August 2005, he was extradited to Maryland to face some of the charges there, for which he was convicted of six counts of first-degree murder on May 30, 2006. Upon completion of the trial activity in Maryland, it was planned that he next be returned to Virginia's death row unless some agreement is reached with another state or the District of Columbia seeking to try him. He has not been tried on additional charges, although he faces potential trials in three other states and the District of Columbia involving other shootings.

The DC-area sniper case was cracked after one of the suspects called police and mentioned that they were responsible for an Alabama robbery-murder outside a liquor store. Investigators in Montgomery were able to match a fingerprint found on a weapons magazine in the parking lot to Malvo's immigration records. After connecting Malvo to the Montgomery killing, authorities traced him to a school in Bellingham, Washington, then to a home in Tacoma where he lived with Muhammad. Police then linked the sniper team to Mohammad's blue Caprice which was registered in New Jersey. That night police broadcast a description of the suspects and the vehicle that led to a trucker calling police and saying he had spotted them in a Maryland rest stop, where they were arrested.

Paul J. LaRuffa was a restaurateur in Clinton, Maryland. At the end of the day on September 5, 2002, LaRuffa closed his restaurant and proceeded to take his laptop computer and $3500 in cash and credit receipts to his car. After he sat behind the steering wheel, he saw a figure to his left and a flash of light, then heard gunshots. LaRuffa was shot six times, but survived. An employee who left the restaurant with LaRuffa witnessed the shooting and called 911. He testified that he saw a “kid” run up to LaRuffa's car, fire into it, and take the briefcase and laptop. Muhammad v. Virginia, 269 Va. 451, 619 S.E.2d 16, 25 (2005). The briefcase and empty deposit bags were found six weeks later in a wooded area approximately a mile from the shooting. The DNA from clothing found nearby was consistent with that of Lee Boyd Malvo.

On September 15, 2002, there was a second shooting in Clinton, Maryland: Muhammad Rashid was locking the front door of the Three Roads Liquor Store from the outside when he heard gunshots behind him. A young man then rushed him and shot him in the stomach. Rashid testified that the young man was Malvo.

Almost a week later, on September 21, 2002, Claudine Parker and Kelly Adams were shot after closing the Zelda Road ABC Liquor Store in Montgomery, Alabama. Parker died as a result of her gunshot wound through the back-the bullet transected her spinal cord and passed through her lung. Adams was shot through the neck, and the bullet exited through her chin, breaking her jaw in half, shattering her face and teeth, paralyzing her left vocal cord, and severing nerves in her left shoulder. Yet, she survived. Bullets recovered from the shooting were eventually identified as coming from a Bushmaster high-powered rifle. While the rifle was being fired, Malvo was seen approaching Parker and Adams. A police car passed by the scene immediately after the shooting, and the officers observed Malvo going through the women's purses. The officers gave chase, but Malvo escaped. In the process, however, he dropped a gun catalog. Malvo's fingerprints were found on the catalog, and a .22-caliber, stainless-steel revolver was found in the stairwell of an apartment building that Malvo traversed. The revolver was the same as the one used to shoot LaRuffa and Rashid.

Two days later, on September 23, 2002, the manager of a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Beauty Depot store, Hong Im Ballenger, was walking to her car after closing the store for the evening when she was shot once in the head. The bullet entered the back of her head and exited through her jawbone. She died as a result of the wound. The bullet was determined to have come from the Bushmaster rifle found on Muhammad during his arrest. Witnesses saw Malvo flee from the scene with Ballenger's purse.

The sixth and seventh shootings occurred in Silver Spring, Maryland, on October 3, 2002. At approximately 8:15 a.m., Premkumar A. Walekar was shot while fueling his taxicab. The bullet went through his left arm and entered his chest, where it fatally damaged his heart. At approximately 8:30 a.m., Sarah Ramos was killed while sitting on a bench in front of the Crisp & Juicy Restaurant in the Leisure World Shopping Center. The bullet entered through the front of her head and exited through her spinal cord at the top of the neck. Both bullets were identified as having come from a Bushmaster rifle, and an eyewitness identified Muhammad's Chevrolet Caprice at the scene of the second shooting.

On October 3, 2002, at approximately 10:00 a.m., Lori Lewis-Rivera was shot in the back while vacuuming her car at a Shell gas station in Kensington, Maryland. The bullet was identified as coming from a Bushmaster rifle. An eyewitness said that he saw a Chevrolet Caprice in the area approximately twenty minutes before the shooting. At approximately 7:00 p.m., a police officer stopped Muhammad for running two stop signs. The officer gave Muhammad a verbal warning and released him. Later that night, at approximately 9:15 p.m., Pascal Chariot was shot in the chest as he crossed the inter section of Georgia Avenue and Kalmia Road in the District of Columbia. Chariot's shooting happened about thirty blocks from where Muhammad was stopped. The bullet fragments from both the Lewis-Rivera and the Chariot shootings were identified as coming from a Bushmaster rifle.

The next day, October 4, 2002, Caroline Seawell was putting bags in her minivan outside of a Michael's craft store in Fredericksburg, Virginia, when she was shot once in the back. The bullet damaged her liver and exited through her right breast, but she survived the attack. An eyewitness testified to seeing a Caprice in the parking lot at the time of the shooting, and ballistics tests determined the bullet fragments came from a Bushmaster rifle.

On October 6, 2002, Tanya Brown was taking Iran Brown to Tasker Middle School in Bowie, Maryland. As Iran was walking on the sidewalk to the school, he was shot once in the chest. Tanya drove Iran to a health care center where surgeons were able to save his life despite lung damage, a large hole in his diaphragm, damage to the left lobe of his liver, and lacerations to his stomach, pancreas, and spleen. Two eyewitnesses testified that they saw a Caprice in the vicinity of the school the day before and the morning of the shooting. One eyewitness positively identified both Muhammad and Malvo in the Caprice the morning of the shooting. The police searched the surrounding area and found a ballpoint pen and a shell casing in the woods near the school. The area had been pressed down like a blind used to conceal hunters. The tissue samples from the pen matched Muhammad's DNA, and the shell casing and bullet fragments were determined to have come from a Bushmaster rifle. The Brown shooting was also the first time that police discovered communications from the shooters. The tarot card for death was found, and on it was written, “Call me God.” On the back, someone had written, “For you, Mr. Police. Code: Call me God. Do not release to the Press.” Muhammad v. Virginia, 619 S.E.2d at 27.

Three days later, on October 9, 2002, Dean Meyers was fueling his car at a Sunoco station in Manassas, Virginia, when he was shot in the head by a single bullet. The bullet was later determined to have come from a Bushmaster rifle. An eyewitness testified that she saw Muhammad and Malvo in the area approximately one hour prior. The police actually interviewed Muhammad in a parking lot across the street immediately after the shooting, and they later found a map with Muhammad's fingerprints in the parking lot.

On October 11, 2002, Kenneth Bridges was fired upon at an Exxon gas station in Massaponax, Virginia. He was shot once in the chest by a bullet identified as having come from the Bushmaster rifle. Two eyewitnesses testified that they saw a Caprice at or near the Exxon that morning.

The fourteenth shooting occurred on October 14, 2002, in Falls Church, Virginia. Linda Franklin and her husband were loading their car outside of a Home Depot when she was shot in the head by a single bullet and killed. Ballistics experts determined that the bullet was from a Bushmaster rifle.

The next day, October 15, a Rockville, Maryland, dispatcher received the following telephone call: “Don't say any thing, just listen, we're the people who are causing the killings in your area. Look on the tarot card, it says, ‘call me God, do not release to press.’ We've called you three times before trying to set up negotiations. We've gotten no response. People have died.” Id. at 28. The caller hung up before the dispatcher could transfer the call to the Sniper Task Force.

Three days later, on October 18, Officer Derek Baliles of the Montgomery County, Maryland, Police received a telephone call. The caller told Baliles to “shut up” and said that he knew who was doing the shootings, but wanted the police to verify some information before he said anything further. Id. The caller asked questions about the Parker and Adams shootings in Alabama and hung up again. When the caller called again, Baliles verified the shootings. The caller stated that he needed to find more coins and a telephone without surveillance, then hung up. The same day, William Sullivan, a priest in Ashland, Virginia, received a telephone call from two people. The first male voice told him that someone else wanted to speak to him. The second male voice said that “the lady didn't have to die,” and “it was at the Home Depot.” Id. The caller then told him about the shooting in Alabama and said, “Mr. Policeman, I am God. Do not tell the press.” Id. The caller concluded by telling Sullivan to relay the information to the police.

The next day, October 19, 2002, Jeffery Hopper and his wife were leaving a restaurant in Ashland, Virginia, when he was shot in the abdomen. Hopper survived, but his injuries required five surgeries to repair his pancreas, stomach, kidneys, liver, diaphragm, and intestines. In the woods near the crime scene, police discovered another blind similar to the one at the Brown shooting. They also found a shell casing, a candy wrapper, and a plastic sandwich bag that was attached with a thumbtack to a tree at eye level and was decorated with Halloween characters and self-adhesive stars. The shell casing and bullets were determined to have come from a Bushmaster rifle. The candy wrapper contained Muhammad's and Malvo's DNA. The sandwich bag contained a handwritten message: For you Mr. Police. “Call me God.” Do not release to the Press. We have tried to contact you to start negotiation ... These people took our call for a Hoax or Joke, so your failure to respond has cost you five lives. If stopping the killing is more important than catching us now, then you will accept our demand which are non-negotiable. (i) You will place ten million dollar in Bank of america account ... We will have unlimited withdrawl at any atm worldwide. You will activate the bank account, credit card, and pin number. We will contact you at Ponderosa Buffet, Ashland, Virginia, tel. # ... 6:00 am Sunday Morning. You have until 9:00 a.m. Monday morning to complete transaction. “Try to catch us withdrawing at least you will have less body bags.” (ii) If trying to catch us now more important then prepare you body bags. If we give you our word that is what takes place. “Word is Bond.” P.S. Your children are not safe anywhere at anytime. Id. at 28-29 (alterations in original). However, the note was not discovered until after the deadline had passed. Surveillance videotapes from that day identified Muhammad at a Big Lots store near the shooting.

The day after Hopper was shot, the FBI Sniper Tip Line received a call from a male who stated, “Don't talk. Just listen. Call me God. I left a message for you at the Ponderosa. I am trying to reach you at the Ponderosa. Be there to take a call in ten minutes.” Id. at 29. On October 21, 2002, the FBI negotiations team received a call that had been re-routed from the Ponderosa telephone number. A recorded voice said:

Don't say anything. Just listen. Dearest police, Call me God. Do not release to the press. Five red stars. You have our terms. They are non-negotiable. If you choose Option 1, you will hold a press conference stating to the media that you believe you have caught the sniper like a duck in a noose. Repeat every word exactly as you heard it. If you choose Option 2, be sure to remember we will not deviate. P.S.-Your children are not safe. Id.

The next day at around 6:00 a.m., Conrad Johnson, a bus driver for the Montgomery County Transit Authority, was shot in the chest as he was entering his bus in Aspen Hill, Maryland. Johnson was conscious when the rescue workers arrived, but died at the hospital. The bullet fragments were determined to have come from a Bushmaster rifle. At another blind discovered nearby, a black duffle bag and a brown left-handed glove were found. DNA from hair found in the duffle bag matched that of Muhammad. Another plastic bag that contained self-adhesive stars and a note was left behind.

On October 24, 2002, the FBI captured Muhammad and Malvo at a rest area in Frederick County, Maryland. They were asleep in a Caprice, where police found a loaded .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle behind the rear seat. The DNA on the rifle matched that of both Muhammad and Malvo, although the only fingerprints found on the rifle were those of Malvo. The Caprice had been modified with heavy window tint, a hinged rear seat that provided easy access to the trunk from the passenger compartment, and a hole that had been cut into the trunk lid just above the license plate. Covering the hole was a right-handed brown glove that matched the left-handed glove found near the Johnson shooting, and a rubber seal crossed over the hole. Moreover, the trunk had been spray-painted blue.

Police also found the following items in the Caprice: a global positioning system receiver; a magazine about rifles; an AT & T telephone charge card; ear plugs; maps; plastic sandwich bags; a rifle scope; .223-caliber ammunition; two-way radios; a digital voice recorder; a receipt from a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, grocery store, dated September 27, 2002; an electronic organizer; a plastic bag from Big Lots; a slip of paper containing the Sniper Task Force telephone number; and a list of schools in the Baltimore area. Moreover, police found LaRuffa's laptop computer, onto which Muhammad had loaded “Microsoft Streets and Trips 2002” on September 2, 2002. In the software program, maps had been marked with icons, including some with a skull and crossbones. Icons indicated where Walekar, Lewis-Rivera, Seawell, Brown, Meyers, and Franklin had been shot. There was also a document entitled “Allah8.rtf” that contained portions of the text communicated to police in the extortion demands.

In total, Muhammad was accused of shooting sixteen people and killing ten of them. Muhammad was convicted by a jury in the Circuit Court of Prince William County, Virginia, on November 17, 2003, for the 2002 capital murder of Dean Meyers as more than one murder in three years, in violation of Va.Code Ann. § 18.2-31(8) (2003); for the capital murder of Meyers in the commission of an act of terrorism, in violation of Va.Code Ann. § 18.2-31(13) (2003); for conspiracy to commit capital murder; and for the illegal use of a firearm during the commission of murder. On November 24, 2003, the jury sentenced Muhammad to death for the capital murder and to twenty-three years in prison for the other crimes. The trial court entered final judgment in accordance with the verdict on March 29, 2004.

Muhammad Legal Chronology

October 24, 2002 41 3:19 a.m.: Police arrest Muhammad and Malvo while sleeping at a rest stop in Frederick County, MD.
October 14, 2003 Muhammad’s Trial Begins (Trial held in Virginia Beach for Washington D.C. slayings).
October 17, 2003 Jury Selection completed.
October 21, 2003 Muhammad moves to act as own counsel.
November 17, 2003 Muhammad found guilty on four counts: two counts of capital murder, conspiracy, and use of a firearm.
November 24, 2003 Jury recommends the death penalty for Muhammad.
March 29, 2004 John Allen Muhammad is sentenced to death.

Malvo Legal Chronology

Malvo was charged by the Commonwealth of Virginia for two capital crimes: the murder of FBI analyst Linda Franklin "in the commission of an act of terrorism," and the murder of more than one person in a three-year period. While in jail, he made a recorded confession to Detective Samuel Walker in which he stated that he "intended to kill them all". He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to all charges on the grounds that he was under Muhammad's complete control. One of Malvo's psychiatric witnesses testified that Muhammad, a member of Nation of Islam, had indoctrinated him into believing that the proceeds of the extortion attempt would be used to begin a new nation of only pure black young persons somewhere in Canada.

On December 18, 2003, after nearly 14 hours of deliberation, the jury convicted him of both charges. On December 23, a jury recommended a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of Franklin. On March 10, 2004, a judge formally sentenced him to life in prison without parole.

On October 26, 2004, under a plea bargain to avoid a possible death penalty, Malvo entered an Alford plea to the charges of murdering Kenneth Bridges and attempting to murder Caroline Seawell while Malvo was in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. He also plead guilty to two firearms charges and agreed not to appeal his conviction for the murder of Franklin. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole for murder, plus eight years imprisonment for the weapons charges.

As Malvo was 17 when he committed the crimes, he cannot face the death penalty, but still may be extradited to Alabama, Louisiana, and other states for prosecution.

On June 16, 2006, Malvo told authorities that he and Muhammad were guilty of four additional shootings. The four most recently linked victims were also shot in 2002: a man killed in Los Angeles during a robbery in February or March; a 76-year-old man who survived a shooting on May 18 at a golf course in Clearwater, Florida; a man shot to death while doing yard work in Denton, Texas, May 27; and a 54-year-old man who survived being shot on August 1 during a robbery outside a shopping mall near Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

On October 10, 2006, Malvo pleaded guilty to the six murders he was charged with in Maryland. On November 8, he was sentenced to six consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. On October 27, 2006, Malvo told police that he and Muhammad were responsible for the killing of a 60-year-old man on a golf course in Tucson, Arizona. He claimed that they shot Jerry Taylor while he was practicing chip shots on a local golf course. Tucson police had long sought to speak with Malvo about the March 19, 2002 death of Taylor, who died from a single long range gunshot.

Citations:

Muhammad v. Commonwealth, 611 S.E.2d 537 (Va. 2005) (Direct Appeal).
Muhammad v. Warden of Sussex I State Prison, 646 S.E.2d 182 (Va. 2007) (State Habeas).
Muhammad v. Kelly, 575 F.3d 359 (4th Cir. 2009) (Federal Habeas).
Muhammad v. State, 934 A.2d 1059 (Md.App. 2007). (Direct Appeal).

Final/Special Meal:

Chicken and red sauce, and some cakes.

Final Words:

None.

ClarkProsecutor.org

 
 

D.C. sniper Muhammad is executed without last words

By Dena Potter - PilotOnline.com

AP November 11, 2009

JARRATT, Va. - Sniper John Allen Muhammad refused to utter any last words as he was executed, taking to the grave answers about why and how he plotted the killings of 10 people that terrorized the Washington, D.C., area for three weeks in October 2002.

The 48-year-old died by injection at 9:11 p.m. Tuesday as relatives of the victims watched from behind glass, separated from the rest of the 27 witnesses at Greensville Correctional Center, south of Richmond.

Muhammad was executed for killing Dean Harold Meyers, who was shot in the head at a Manassas gas station during the spree across Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

He never testified or explained why he masterminded the shootings with the help of a teenage accomplice. That left questions unanswered about why he methodically hunted people going about their daily chores, why he chose his victims, including a middle schooler on his way to class, and how many victims there were.

Muhammad stepped into Virginia's death chamber and within minutes was lying on a gurney, tapping his left foot, his arms spread wide with a needle dug into each. "Mr. Muhammad, do you have any last words?" the warden asked. Muhammad, looking calm and stoic, said nothing.

Meyers' brother, Bob Meyers, said watching the execution was sobering and "surreal." He said other witnesses expressed a range of feelings, including some who were overcome with emotion. "I would have liked him at some point in the process to take responsibility, to show remorse," Meyers said. "We didn't get any of that tonight."

After the first of the three-drug lethal cocktail was administered, Muhammad blinked repeatedly and took about seven deep breaths. Within a minute, he was motionless.

Nelson Rivera, whose wife, Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera, was gunned down as she vacuumed her van at a Maryland gas station, said that when he watched Muhammad's chest moving for the last time, he was glad. "I feel better. I think I can breathe better," he said. "I'm glad he's gone because he's not going to hurt anyone else."

J. Wyndal Gordon, one of Muhammad's attorneys, described his client in his final hours as fearless and still insisting he was innocent. "He will die with dignity — dignity to the point of defiance," Gordon said before going inside to watch the execution.

The terror ended on Oct. 24, 2002, when police captured Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo while they slept at a Maryland rest stop in a car they had outfitted for a shooter to perch in its trunk without being detected.

Malvo, who was 17 when carrying out the attacks, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing Linda Franklin, a 47-year-old FBI analyst who was shot as she and her husband loaded supplies at a Home Depot in Falls Church, Va. The men also were suspected of fatal shootings in other states, including Louisiana, Alabama and Arizona.

The U.S. Supreme Court turned down Muhammad's final appeal Monday, and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine denied clemency Tuesday.

Muhammad's attorneys had asked Kaine to commute his sentence to life in prison because they said Muhammad was severely mentally ill. "I think crimes that are this horrible, you just can't understand them, you can't explain them," said Kaine, a Democrat known for carefully considering death penalty cases.

A small group of death penalty opponents gathered on a grassy area near the prison and had a sign reading, "We remember the victims, but not with more killing."

Muhammad was born John Allen Williams and changed his name after converting to Islam. He had been in and out of the military since he graduated from high school in Louisiana and entered the National Guard. He joined the Army in 1985. He did not take special sniper training but earned an expert rating in the M-16 rifle — the military cousin of the .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle used in the D.C.-area shootings.

The motive for the attacks remains murky. Malvo said Muhammad wanted to extort $10 million from the government to set up a camp in Canada where homeless children would be trained as terrorists. Muhammad's ex-wife said she believes they were a smoke screen for his plan to kill her and regain custody of their three children.

Sonia Hollingsworth-Wills, the mother of Conrad Johnson, the last man slain that October, sat in the back seat of a car outside the prison before the execution, which she chose not to witness. But she said she wanted to be there and was counting the minutes until Muhammad's death. "It was the most horrifying day of my life," she said. "I'll never get complete closure but at least I can put this behind me."

Cheryll Witz, who's father, Jerry Taylor, was fatally shot on a Tucson, Ariz., golf course in March 2002, said she was unhappy that Muhammad didn't say anything before he died. But she said his execution begins a new chapter in her life. "I've waited seven long years for this," she said. "My life is totally beginning now. I have all my closure, and my justice and my peace."

 
 

Sniper John Muhammad executed

By Frank Green - The Richmond Times-Dispatch

November 11, 2009

JARRATT — John Allen Muhammad, 48, the leader of a two-man shooting team that kept the region in fear through much of October 2002, was pronounced dead at 9:11 p.m. in Virginia’s death house at Greensville Correctional Center.

Muhammad was sentenced to die for the Oct. 9, 2002, slaying of Dean Harold Meyers, 53, a civil engineer shot in the head at a Prince William County gas station where he had stopped on his way home from work. Given the chance to make a last statement, Muhammad stared stoically at the ceiling and did not move a muscle. No spiritual adviser was present. “He did not even look at us or acknowledge us,” said Larry Traylor, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Corrections.

At 8:58 p.m., Muhammad was led into the execution chamber. He was clean-shaven, dressed in blue denim prison clothing, an execution-team member at each side. He appeared to stumble a bit, looking down and then toward the gurney. He was quickly led to the gurney, and his arms, legs and torso were secured with leather and nylon straps.

At 9 p.m., the team members stepped back from the gurney and a curtain was drawn, blocking the witnesses’ view as IV lines were inserted in Muhammad’s arms and the leads to a heart monitor were affixed to his chest. The curtains were reopened at 9:06 p.m., and Muhammad was asked whether he wanted to make a last statement. At 9:07 p.m., the first of three chemicals used to execute him appeared to be moving through the IV lines. He took several deep breaths, which grew shallower; by 9:08 p.m., his breathing appeared to have stopped. There were no complications during the execution, Traylor said.

Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert was among the more than two dozen witnesses. Speaking to the media afterward, he said he found the execution somewhat anticlimactic, and he noted that Muhammad died much more peacefully than some of his victims.

What follows is coverage of Muhammad’s final day:

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has declined to intervene and stop tonight’s scheduled execution of John Allen Muhammad. “Having carefully reviewed the petition for clemency and judicial opinions regarding this case, I find no compelling reason to set aside the sentence that was recommended by the jury and then imposed and affirmed by the courts,“ said Kaine in a prepared statement

Muhammad, 48, was sentenced to die for the Oct. 9, 2002, slaying of Dean Harold Meyers, 53, who was shot at a Manassas-area gasoline station, one of 10 people killed and three wounded by Muhammad and his accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo. Malvo, 17 at the time of the shootings, escaped a death sentence and is serving life without parole. The execution by injection is set for 9 p.m. at the Greensville Correctional Center near Jarratt.

Though there were 13 “sniper” victims in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, the two are believed also responsible for slayings in other states.

An undisclosed number of family members of the victims will witness the execution. According to media accounts, some area traveling from as far as Idaho and Alabama.

Jonathan Sheldon, one of Muhammad’s lawyers, noted that the U.S. Supreme Court and Kaine turned down his client. “We respect their decisions and will make no more legal efforts to stop this process from going forward,“ he said.

Echoing a comment he made yesterday, Sheldon said, “In its effort to race John Allen Muhammad to his death before his appeals could be pursued, the state of Virginia will execute a severely mentally ill man who also suffered from Gulf War Syndrome the day before Veterans Day.“

Larry Traylor, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Corrections, said that at about 2:30 p.m. Muhammad was meeting with immediate family members and that he does not have a spiritual adviser. Muhammad’s attorneys are planning to meet with him later this afternoon, said Traylor.

 
 

Muhammad executed for sniper killing

No final words in last minutes; 10 were slain in Oct. 2002 rampage

By Josh White and Maria Glod - The Washington Post

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

JARRATT, Va. -- John Allen Muhammad, the sniper who kept the Washington region paralyzed by fear for three weeks as he and a young accomplice gunned down people at random, was executed Tuesday night by lethal injection.

Muhammad, a man who directed what many law enforcement officials consider one of the worst outbursts of crime in the nation's history, died in Virginia's death chamber while relatives of his victims looked on.

Unlike his victims, Muhammad knew when and how he was going to die. He and Jamaican immigrant Lee Boyd Malvo, then 17, killed 10 people in the Washington area during a terrifying rampage in October 2002; they also have been linked to shootings in several other states.

Virginia authorities escorted Muhammad, in denim and flip-flops, into a small room at the Greensville Correctional Center and strapped him to a cross-shaped table. He was then injected with a series of lethal drugs beginning at 9:06 p.m. and he was pronounced dead at 9:11 p.m. Although he maintained his innocence to the very end, Muhammad, 48, ignored a request to make a final statement.

Larry Traylor, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Corrections, said Tuesday night that Muhammad requested a last meal but asked that details not be made public. Muhammad also declined to meet with a spiritual adviser, but he did spend time with immediate family members in his last few hours.

Muhammad showed no emotion in the death chamber. When the curtain opened, his head was tilted to the right, and his eyes were closed. Asked whether he wanted to say anything, he did not respond. "It's over. The whole long, sad process has ended," said Bob Meyers, whose brother, Dean H. Meyers, 53, was gunned down Oct. 9 at a Prince William County gas station. "There are no winners here. We are not celebrating. It was a sad day for everyone."

Bob Meyers and his wife, Lori, witnessed the execution along with about 20 other relatives of victims. He said the mood was somber as they watched Muhammad's final breaths. "There is a certain bit of closure, but you never get full closure," Meyers said. "I think it was justice."

Muhammad's attorney, Jon Sheldon, who met with the sniper Tuesday and also witnessed the execution, said Muhammad did not want to take part in the rituals of the death penalty. "He had no interest in those things," Sheldon said, explaining why Muhammad did not speak and declined to make public his final meal.

Sheldon said Muhammad visited with one of his sons and remained convinced that the prosecution was a racist plot against him. But the lawyers steered conversation to other topics. Using a single .223-caliber sniper rifle and a modified Chevrolet sedan that authorities have called "a killing machine," Muhammad and Malvo injected fear into the mundane tasks their victims were performing as they were hit: pumping gas, shopping, walking to school, mowing lawns, going to a restaurant. Malvo is serving a life sentence without parole.

The killings began with no explanation. Then the snipers left cryptic notes and phone messages demanding $10 million, just as millions of Washington area residents were distracted by white vans and other mistaken clues that authorities were chasing. The shootings led Washingtonians to change their daily rhythms. People zigzagged through parking lots and instructed their children to duck down in cars while at gas stations. Schools canceled outdoor recess and football games. The shootings were so frightening because they were so random.

In the end, Muhammad and Malvo were tracked down because of a fingerprint left at an Alabama shooting referred to in one of the notes the snipers left behind. Investigators put that together with Muhammad's purchase of the dark blue Chevy in New Jersey, a stolen Bushmaster rifle from Washington state, and an alert truck driver who noticed the Caprice at a highway rest stop in Maryland.

Despite scores of witnesses and hundreds of pieces of evidence -- the sum of which pointed directly at Muhammad and Malvo and led to capital murder convictions -- law enforcement officials have not pinned down a solid motive for the shootings and cannot say for sure who specifically fired the fatal shots.

Muhammad's ex-wife, who lived with his children in the Maryland suburbs, where many of the shootings occurred, has speculated that he did it to frighten or even kill her.

Prosecutors relied on untested Virginia terrorism laws that allowed them to seek convictions even if they couldn't prove which of the two suspects fired the gun.

In the 2003 trial in Virginia Beach, Muhammad represented himself for the first two days, making rambling but cogent points about the fact that no one saw him shoot a single bullet. His attorneys later took over, but jurors ultimately convicted him and sentenced him to death.

Muhammad was put to death for a single killing: the Oct. 9, 2002, sniper slaying of Dean H. Meyers of Gaithersburg, who was shot shortly after 8 p.m. while he pumped gas into his Mazda at a Sunoco station outside Manassas.

Federal authorities, who could have allowed Muhammad to be tried in any of the jurisdictions that saw a sniper slaying, chose the Meyers case because Prince William Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert had a stellar record in capital cases -- he had sent a dozen people to Virginia's death row -- and Virginia was known for its speedy appeals process.

The decision paid off. Just six years after Muhammad's conviction, he was put to death, having exhausted every legal option. The U.S. Supreme Court denied his final request for a stay Monday, and Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) rejected his clemency request Tuesday.

Ebert, who had never witnessed an execution before Tuesday night, chose to go to Muhammad's. Rick Conway, one of the Prince William prosecutors who secured the conviction against Muhammad and one of the witnesses to his execution, said it was a "great relief" to see Muhammad die after all the efforts to catch him, try him and punish him. "Justice has been served," Conway said. "There is definitely a feeling of finality to this. . . . John Allen Muhammad cannot victimize anyone else."

Muhammad's appellate attorneys had long argued that their client was mentally ill and that he was incompetent to represent himself and perhaps even to stand trial. They decried Virginia's haste in executing him.

After Muhammad was dead, Sheldon read a statement from him and Muhammad's family. "We deeply sympathize with the families and loved ones who have to relive the pain and loss of those terrible days," he said. "To all those families and the countless citizens across the country who bore witness, and continue to do so, to those tragic events, we renew our condolences and offer our prayers for a better future."

Sheldon also expressed condolences to Muhammad's family, saying that "with humility and self-consciousness, today [they] lost a father and member of their family."

But Nelson Rivera, whose wife, Lori Lewis Rivera, was shot at a Montgomery County gas station as she vacuumed her boss's car, had a different view. "I'm happy he's dead," Rivera said. "This is not going to bring Lori back, but I don't have to think about him anymore. I can breathe better."

 
 

John Allen Muhammad Dies in Virginia Execution Chamber

By Christopher M. Matthews and James B. Hale - SOMD.com

November 12, 2009

JARRATT, Va. (Nov. 12, 2009) - John Allen Muhammad, one of the Beltway snipers, was executed Tuesday evening, ending the life of a man who unleashed a three week reign of terror on the Washington metro area in the fall of 2002.

Muhammad, 48, was pronounced dead at 9:11 p.m., killed by lethal injection at Virginia's Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt. Relatives of his victims, his attorneys, members of the media and official state witnesses watched as Muhammad's sentence was fulfilled. "I feel closure, I feel peaceful," said Paul Ebert, the Virginia prosecutor who successfully tried Muhammad. "I think the families feel closure."

Muhammad was sentenced to death nearly six years ago by a Virginia jury for the murder of Dean Harold Meyers. He shot and killed Meyers at a gas station near Manassas, part of a 22-day shooting spree that left 10 people dead and three injured. The shootings came on the heels of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and threw the Washington area into a state of utter fear.

Muhammad's accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, is serving three life sentences at Red Onion State Prison in Virginia. In accordance with a Supreme Court ruling, Malvo was ineligible for the death penalty because he was 17 at the time of his sentencing.

At 9:14 p.m., Virginia Department of Corrections Communications Director Larry Traylor announced Muhammad's fate to the media horde gathered outside the prison's entrance. More than 60 members of the news media stood in the on and off drizzle awaiting word.

Traylor said the execution was without complication and that Muhammad refused to say any last words. "I never heard him utter a word or say anything at all," he said. "He was emotionless."

According to media witness Jon Burkett, of WTVR-TV in Richmond, Muhammad "staggered" into the execution chamber at 8:58 p.m. and was strapped to a table. He was then administered three chemicals behind closed curtains which rendered him unconscious, then stopped his breathing, and finally his heart. The curtains were pulled back at 9:06 p.m., at which point Muhammad began to twitch and blink. By 9:08 p.m. he was motionless, Burkett said.

Outside the perimeter of the Greensville facility, the scene was subdued in an area designated for protesters. Roughly 30 protesters, victims' relatives, and onlookers sat in their cars trying to avoid the rain.

The parents and friends of Conrad Johnson, an alleged victim of Muhammad, waited for Muhammad's death in the area designated for protesters. Milton Perry, Johnson's close friend, said the prison only permitted two members per family to watch the execution.

Sonia Hollingsworth-Wills and Tyrone Wills, Johnson's parents, said the evening made them nervous. "It's been a long time coming," said Hollingsworth-Wills. "After tonight it will be a relief." Hollingsworth-Wills said the execution would not bring complete closure, but it would help. "I can put that part of my life behind me -- I will never forget my son," she said. "This will not bring my son back, but I am the voice of Conrad and I just have to be here for that."

Earlier in the day, Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, announced that he would not grant Muhammad's appeal for clemency. Traylor said the director of the prison was on the phone until the last moment waiting for a call from Kaine in case he changed his mind. That call never came. "Having carefully reviewed the petition for clemency and judicial opinions regarding this case, I find no compelling reason to set aside the sentence that was recommended by the jury and then imposed and affirmed by the courts," Kaine said in a written statement earlier in the day. "Accordingly, I decline to intervene."

Despite his personal opposition to the death penalty, Kaine has only granted clemency once since taking office in 2006. Nine inmates have been executed during Kaine's tenure.

On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to hear Muhammad's lawyers' final petition for a stay.

Muhammad became the 104th inmate to be executed in Virginia since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Virginia is second only to Texas nationally in terms of the number of inmates executed since reinstatement.

Muhammad's execution drew victims' families from across the country to Virginia. According to Traylor, the prison had to turn away some of the family members because there was not enough room to accommodate all of them. "There (were) many, many families that we don't have the space for," he said.

After his execution Muhammad's body was rushed to a medical examiner in Richmond. According to one of Muhammad's attorneys, J. Wyndall Gordon, the state will keep Muhammad's body for two days after the execution in order to verify his death. Gordon said Muhammad made light of this during one of his conversations with him earlier in the day. "He said 'they'll probably put the handcuffs on me after I'm dead to make sure I don't run away,'" said Gordon.

Gordon, who served as Muhammad's standby attorney in the Montgomery County case in which Muhammad represented himself, said his client remained "dignified" to the end. "His mood was the same, you would not have known that his death was impending just by talking to him," he said.

Gordon also said Muhammad continued to maintain his innocence. "That's based on the evidence, or lack thereof," Gordon said.

According to Gordon, Muhammad's attorneys in the Virginia case were not given more than 30,000 pieces of evidence from the prosecution. In the Maryland case, Gordon maintained the jury was unavoidably biased and Muhammad was tried in "the court of public opinion."

Another of Muhammad's lawyers, Jonathon Sheldon, simply said that Muhammad's family and his lawyers sympathize with victims' families. "We renew our condolences and we offer our prayers for a better future," he said.

 
 

John Allen Muhammad

ProDeathPenalty.com

Lee Boyd Malvo committed his first killing at John Allen Muhammad's bidding just 10 weeks after he ran away from his mother. Malvo confessed to the Feb. 16, 2002, slaying of Keenya Cook in Tacoma, saying he walked up to her house and shot her in the face at point-blank range, while her baby slept nearby. The bullet hit just below Keenya's left eye and lodged at the base of her skull.

A month later, the pair had moved to Tuscon Arizona. Jerry Ray Taylor, 60, a salesman for a frozen-foods distributor, was an avid golfer who so loved the game that he made his own clubs. At lunchtime on March 19, Taylor pulled his silver Nissan pickup into the parking lot of the Fred Enke Golf Course, a mile or so from Newell's house. About a half-hour later, while Taylor was chipping balls alone in a practice area, a gunshot sounded in the distance. The bullet hit Taylor in the back, killing him on the spot. Two golfers discovered the body that afternoon; it had been dragged a short distance and partially hidden in a tangle of scrub brush. Taylor's wallet was found nearby, cash and credit cards inside. The slug that tore through his heart -- almost certainly from a high-powered rifle, police said -- hasn't been recovered and most likely shattered into minuscule fragments. There were no witnesses.

Paul J. LaRuffa was a restaurateur in Clinton, Maryland. At the end of the day on September 5, 2002, LaRuffa closed his restaurant and proceeded to take his laptop computer and $3500 in cash and credit receipts to his car. After he sat behind the steering wheel, he saw a figure to his left and a flash of light, then heard gunshots. LaRuffa was shot six times, but survived. An employee who left the restaurant with LaRuffa witnessed the shooting and called 911. He testified that he saw a "kid" run up to LaRuffa’s car, fire into it, and take the briefcase and laptop. The briefcase and empty deposit bags were found six weeks later in a wooded area approximately a mile from the shooting. The DNA from clothing found nearby was consistent with that of Lee Boyd Malvo.

On September 15, 2002, there was a second shooting in Clinton, Maryland: Muhammad Rashid was locking the front door of the Three Roads Liquor Store from the outside when he heard gunshots behind him. A young man then rushed him and shot him in the stomach. Rashid testified that the young man was Malvo. Almost a week later, on September 21, 2002, Claudine Parker and Kellie Adams, 24, were shot after closing the Zelda Road ABC Liquor Store in Montgomery, Alabama. Claudine Parker, a Sunday school teacher and civil rights champion, died as a result of her gunshot wound through the back—the bullet transected her spinal cord and passed through her lung. Adams was shot through the neck, and the bullet exited through her chin, breaking her jaw in half, shattering her face and teeth, paralyzing her left vocal cord, and severing nerves in her left shoulder. Yet, she survived. Adams said she never lost consciousness after being shot and show a slender black man standing over her. Bullets recovered from the shooting were eventually identified as coming from a Bushmaster high-powered rifle. While the rifle was being fired, Malvo was seen approaching Parker and Adams. A police car passed by the scene immediately after the shooting, and the officers observed Malvo going through the women’s purses. The officers gave chase, but Malvo escaped. In the process, however, he dropped a gun catalog. Malvo’s fingerprints were found on the catalog, and a .22-caliber, stainless-steel revolver was found in the stairwell of an apartment building that Malvo traversed. The revolver was the same as the one used to shoot LaRuffa and Rashid.

Two days later, on September 23, 2002, the manager of a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Beauty Depot store, Hong Im Ballenger, was walking to her car after closing the store for the evening when she was shot once in the head. The bullet entered the back of her head and exited through her jawbone. She died as a result of the wound. The bullet was determined to have come from the Bushmaster rifle found on Muhammad during his arrest. Witnesses saw Malvo flee from the scene with Ballenger’s purse.

The sixth and seventh shootings occurred in Silver Spring, Maryland, on October 3, 2002. At approximately 8:15 a.m., Premkumar A. Walekar was shot while fueling his taxicab. The bullet went through his left arm and entered his chest, where it fatally damaged his heart. At approximately 8:30 a.m., Sarah Ramos was killed while sitting on a bench in front of the Crisp & Juicy Restaurant in the Leisure World Shopping Center. The bullet entered through the front of her head and exited through her spinal cord at the top of the neck. Both bullets were identified as having come from a Bushmaster rifle, and an eyewitness identified Muhammad’s Chevrolet Caprice at the scene of the second shooting.

On October 3, 2002, at approximately 10:00 a.m., Lori Lewis-Rivera was shot in the back while vacuuming her car at a Shell gas station in Kensington, Maryland. The bullet was identified as coming from a Bushmaster rifle. An eyewitness said that he saw a Chevrolet Caprice in the area approximately twenty minutes before the shooting. At approximately 7:00 p.m., a police officer stopped Muhammad for running two stop signs. The officer gave Muhammad a verbal warning and released him.

Later that night, at approximately 9:15 p.m., Pascal Charlot was shot in the chest as he crossed the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Kalmia Road in the District of Columbia. Charlot’s shooting happened about thirty blocks from where Muhammad was stopped. The bullet fragments from both the Lewis-Rivera and the Charlot shootings were identified as coming from a Bushmaster rifle.

The next day, October 4, 2002, Caroline Seawell was putting bags in her minivan outside of a Michael’s craft store in Fredericksburg, Virginia, when she was shot once in the back. The bullet damaged her liver and exited through her right breast, but she survived the attack. An eyewitness testified to seeing a Caprice in the parking lot at the time of the shooting, and ballistics tests determined the bullet fragments came from a Bushmaster rifle.

On October 6, 2002, Tanya Brown was taking Iran Brown to Tasker Middle School in Bowie, Maryland. As Iran was walking on the sidewalk to the school, he was shot once in the chest. Tanya drove Iran to a health care center where surgeons were able to save his life despite lung damage, a large hole in his diaphragm, damage to the left lobe of his liver, and lacerations to his stomach, pancreas, and spleen. Two eyewitnesses testified that they saw a Caprice in the vicinity of the school the day before and the morning of the shooting. One eyewitness positively identified both Muhammad and Malvo in the Caprice the morning of the shooting. The police searched the surrounding area and found a ballpoint pen and a shell casing in the woods near the school. The area had been pressed down like a blind used to conceal hunters. The tissue samples from the pen matched Muhammad’s DNA, and the shell casing and bullet fragments were determined to have come from a Bushmaster rifle. The Brown shooting was also the first time that police discovered communications from the shooters. The tarot card for death was found, and on it was written, "Call me God." On the back, someone had written, "For you, Mr. Police. Code: Call me God. Do not release to the Press."

Three days later, on October 9, 2002, Dean Meyers was fueling his car at a Sunoco station in Manassas, Virginia, when he was shot in the head by a single bullet. The bullet was later determined to have come from a Bushmaster rifle. An eyewitness testified that she saw Muhammad and Malvo in the area approximately one hour prior. The police actually interviewed Muhammad in a parking lot across the street immediately after the shooting, and they later found a map with Muhammad’s fingerprints in the parking lot. On October 11, 2002, Kenneth Bridges was fired upon at an Exxon gas station in Massaponax, Virginia. He was shot once in the chest by a bullet identified as having come from the Bushmaster rifle. Two eyewitnesses testified that they saw a Caprice at or near the Exxon that morning.

The fourteenth shooting occurred on October 14, 2002, in Falls Church, Virginia. Linda Franklin and her husband were loading their car outside of a Home Depot when she was shot in the head by a single bullet and killed. Ballistics experts determined that the bullet was from a Bushmaster rifle.

The next day, October 15, a Rockville, Maryland, dispatcher received the following telephone call: "Don’t say anything, just listen, we’re the people who are causing the killings in your area. Look on the tarot card, it says, ‘call me God, do not release to press.’ We’ve called you three times before trying to set up negotiations. We’ve gotten no response. People have died." The caller hung up before the dispatcher could transfer the call to the Sniper Task Force.

Three days later, on October 18, Officer Derek Baliles of the Montgomery County, Maryland, Police received a telephone call. The caller told Baliles to "shut up" and said that he knew who was doing the shootings, but wanted the police to verify some information before he said anything further. The caller asked questions about the Parker and Adams shootings in Alabama and hung up again. When the caller called again, Baliles verified the shootings. The caller stated that he needed to find more coins and a telephone without surveillance, then hung up. The same day, William Sullivan, a priest in Ashland, Virginia, received a telephone call from two people. The first male voice told him that someone else wanted to speak to him. The second male voice said that "the lady didn’t have to die," and "it was at the Home Depot." The caller then told him about the shooting in Alabama and said, "Mr. Policeman, I am God. Do not tell the press." The caller concluded by telling Sullivan to relay the information to the police.

The next day, October 19, 2002, Jeffery Hopper and his wife were leaving a restaurant in Ashland, Virginia, when he was shot in the abdomen. Hopper survived, but his injuries required five surgeries to repair his pancreas, stomach, kidneys, liver, diaphragm, and intestines. In the woods near the crime scene, police discovered another blind similar to the one at the Brown shooting. They also found a shell casing, a candy wrapper, and a plastic sandwich bag that was attached with a thumbtack to a tree at eye level and was decorated with Halloween characters and self-adhesive stars. The shell casing and bullets were determined to have come from a Bushmaster rifle. The candy wrapper contained Muhammad’s and Malvo’s DNA. The sandwich bag contained a handwritten message: For you Mr. Police. "Call me God." Do not release to the Press. We have tried to contact you to start negotiation . . . These people took our call for a Hoax or Joke, so your failure to respond has cost you five lives. If stopping the killing is more important than catching us now, then you will accept our demand which are non-negotiable. (i) You will place ten million dollar in Bank of america account . . . We will have unlimited withdrawl at any atm worldwide. You will activate the bank account, credit card, and pin number. We will contact you at Ponderosa Buffet, Ashland, Virginia, tel. # . . . 6:00 am Sunday Morning. You have until 9:00 a.m. Monday morning to complete transaction. "Try to catch us withdrawing at least you will have less body bags." If trying to catch us now more important then prepare you body bags. If we give you our word that is what takes place. "Word is Bond." P.S. Your children are not safe anywhere at anytime. However, the note was not discovered until after the deadline had passed. Surveillance videotapes from that day identified Muhammad at a Big Lots store near the shooting.

The day after Hopper was shot, the FBI Sniper Tip Line received a call from a male who stated, "Don’t talk. Just listen. Call me God. I left a message for you at the Ponderosa. I am trying to reach you at the Ponderosa. Be there to take a call in ten minutes." On October 21, 2002, the FBI negotiations team received a call that had been re-routed from the Ponderosa telephone number. A recorded voice said: Don’t say anything. Just listen. Dearest police, Call me God. Do not release to the press. Five red stars. You have our terms. They are non-negotiable. If you choose Option 1, you will hold a press conference stating to the media that you believe you have caught the sniper like a duck in a noose. Repeat every word exactly as you heard it. If you choose Option 2, be sure to remember we will not deviate. P.S. – Your children are not safe. The next day at around 6:00 a.m., Conrad Johnson, a bus driver for the Montgomery County Transit Authority, was shot in the chest as he was entering his bus in Aspen Hill, Maryland. Johnson was conscious when the rescue workers arrived, but died at the hospital. The bullet fragments were determined to have come from a Bushmaster rifle. At another blind discovered nearby, a black duffle bag and a brown left-handed glove were found. DNA from hair found in the duffle bag matched that of Muhammad. Another plastic bag that contained self-adhesive stars and a note was left behind.

On October 24, 2002, the FBI captured Muhammad and Malvo at a rest area in Frederick County, Maryland. They were asleep in a Caprice, where police found a loaded .223- caliber Bushmaster rifle behind the rear seat. The DNA on the rifle matched that of both Muhammad and Malvo, although the only fingerprints found on the rifle were those of Malvo. The Caprice had been modified with heavy window tint, a hinged rear seat that provided easy access to the trunk from the passenger compartment, and a hole that had been cut into the trunk lid just above the license plate. Covering the hole was a right-handed brown glove that matched the left-handed glove found near the Johnson shooting, and a rubber seal crossed over the hole. Moreover, the trunk had been spray-painted blue. Police also found the following items in the Caprice: a global positioning system receiver; a magazine about rifles; an AT&T telephone charge card; ear plugs; maps; plastic sandwich bags; a rifle scope; .223-caliber ammunition; two-way radios; a digital voice recorder; a receipt from a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, grocery store, dated September 27, 2002; an electronic organizer; a plastic bag from Big Lots; a slip of paper containing the Sniper Task Force telephone number; and a list of schools in the Baltimore area. Moreover, police found LaRuffa’s laptop computer, onto which Muhammad had loaded "Microsoft Streets and Trips 2002" on September 2, 2002. In the software program, maps had been marked with icons, including some with a skull and crossbones. Icons indicated where Walekar, Lewis-Rivera, Seawell, Brown, Meyers, and Franklin had been shot. There was also a document entitled "Allah8.rtf" that contained portions of the text communicated to police in the extortion demands.

In total, Muhammad was accused of shooting sixteen people and killing ten of them. Muhammad was convicted by a jury in the Circuit Court of Prince William County, Virginia, on November 17, 2003, for the 2002 capital murder of Dean Meyers as more than one murder in three years; for the capital murder of Meyers in the commission of an act of terrorism; for conspiracy to commit capital murder; and for the illegal use of a firearm during the commission of murder. On November 24, 2003, the jury sentenced Muhammad to death for the capital murder and to twenty-three years in prison for the other crimes.

 
 

John Allen Muhammad

Wikipedia.org

John Allen Muhammad (December 31, 1960 – November 10, 2009) was a spree killer from the United States. With his younger partner, Lee Boyd Malvo, he carried out the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks, killing at least 10 people. Muhammad and Malvo were arrested in connection with the attacks on October 24, 2002, following tips from alert citizens.

Born John Allen Williams, Muhammad joined the Nation of Islam in 1987 and later changed his surname to Muhammad. Drawings by Malvo describe the murders as part of a "jihad" (Arabic for "struggle in the way of God"). At Muhammad's trial, the prosecutor claimed that the rampage was part of a plot to kill his ex-wife and regain custody of his children, but the judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence to support this argument.

His trial for one of the murders (the murder of Dean Harold Meyers in Prince William County, Virginia) began in October 2003, and the following month, he was found guilty of capital murder. Four months later he was sentenced to death. While awaiting execution in Virginia, in August 2005, he was extradited to Maryland to face some of the charges there, for which he was convicted of six counts of first-degree murder on May 30, 2006. Upon completion of the trial activity in Maryland, he was returned to Virginia's death row pending an agreement with another state or the District of Columbia seeking to try him. He was not tried on additional charges in other Virginia jurisdictions, and faced potential trials in three other states and the District of Columbia involving other deaths and serious woundings. Some appeals had been made and rejected, but others remained pending.

Muhammad was executed by lethal injection on November 10, 2009, at 9:06 PM EST at Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Virginia, and was pronounced dead at 9:11 PM EST. Muhammad declined to make a final statement.

Early life

Born John Allen Williams in New Orleans, Louisiana, Muhammad enlisted in the Louisiana Army National Guard in 1978 and, after seven years of service, volunteered for active duty in 1985. In 1987 he joined the Nation of Islam.[5] While in the Army, Muhammad was trained as a mechanic, truck driver and specialist metalworker. He qualified with the Army's standard infantry rifle the M16, earning the Expert Rifleman's Badge. This rating is the Army's highest of three levels of marksmanship for a basic soldier. He was discharged from military service following the Gulf War, as a sergeant, in 1994.

As a member of the Nation of Islam, Muhammad helped provide security for the "Million Man March" in 1995, but Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan has publicly distanced himself and his organization from Muhammad's crimes. Muhammad moved out of the country and spent time with his children in Antigua around 1999, apparently engaging in credit card and immigration document fraud activities. It was during this time that he became close with Lee Boyd Malvo, who later acted as his partner in the killings. John Allen Williams changed his name to John Allen Muhammad in October 2001.

After his arrest, authorities also claimed that Muhammad admitted that he admired and modeled himself after Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, and approved of the September 11 attacks. One of Malvo's psychiatric witnesses testified in his trial that Muhammad had indoctrinated him into believing that the proceeds of the extortion attempt would be used to begin a new nation of only young, "pure" black people somewhere in Canada. Muhammad witnessed the Mark Essex shootout live on television when he was 12.

Muhammad was twice divorced; his second wife, Mildred Muhammad, sought and was granted a restraining order. Muhammad was arrested on federal charges of violating the restraining order against him by possessing a weapon. Defense attorneys in the Malvo trial and the prosecution in Muhammad's trial argued that the ultimate goal of the killings was to kill Mildred so he would regain custody of his three children.

Beltway sniper attacks

Police followed a lead in which an anonymous caller (presumably Muhammad) told a priest to tell the police to check out a liquor store robbery-murder that had occurred in Montgomery, Alabama. Investigators responding to that crime scene found one of the suspects had dropped a magazine with his fingerprints on it; these were subsequently identified as belonging to a 17-year-old Jamaican immigrant Lee Boyd Malvo, whose prints were on file with the INS. Malvo was known to associate with Muhammad. They had lived together in Tacoma, Washington for around one year, where Malvo used the alias John Lee Malvo.[citation needed] Muhammad's identification led to the discovery that he had purchased a former police car, a blue Chevrolet Caprice, in New Jersey on September 11, 2002. A lookout broadcast to the public on that vehicle resulted in their arrest when it was spotted parked in a Maryland rest area on Interstate 70.

Beltway sniper attack victims - Listed in chronological order, these are the names of the victims who were murdered or wounded in the Beltway sniper attacks:

James Martin, 55  -   Killed  -  October 2, 2002, 6:04 PM  -  Wheaton, Maryland

James Buchanan, 39  -  Killed  -  October 3, 2002, 7:41 AM  -  Rockville, Maryland

Premkumar Walekar, 54  -  Killed  -  October 3, 2002, 8:12 AM  -  Aspen Hill, Maryland

Sarah Ramos, 34  -  Killed  -  October 3, 2002, 8:37 AM  -  Silver Spring, Maryland

Lori A. Lewis-Rivera, 25  -  Killed  -  October 3, 2002, 9:58 AM  -  Kensington, Maryland

Pascal Charlot, 72  -  Killed  -  October 3, 2002, 9:20 PM  -  Washington, D.C.

Caroline Seawell, 43  - Survived  -  October 4, 2002, 2:30 PM  -  Fredericksburg, Virginia

Iran Brown, 13  -  Survived  -  October 7, 2002, 8:09 AM  -  Bowie, Maryland

Dean Harold Meyers, 53  -  Killed  -  October 9, 2002, 8:18 PM  -  Manassas, Virginia

Kenneth Bridges, 53  -  Killed  -  October 11, 2002, 9:40 AM  -  Fredericksburg, Virginia

Linda Franklin, 47  -  Killed  -  October 14, 2002, 9:19 PM  -  Falls Church, Virginia

Jeffrey Hopper, 37  -  Survived  -  October 19, 2002, 8:00 PM  -  Ashland, Virginia

Conrad Johnson, 35  -  Killed  -  October 22, 2002, 5:55 AM  -  Aspen Hill, Maryland

These victims have also been linked to Muhammad and Malvo: Keenya Cook, Jerry Ray Taylor, Paul La Ruffa, Rupinder Oberoi, Muhammad Rahid, Million Woldemariam, Claudine Lee Parker, Kellie Adams, Hong Im Ballenger, Wright Williams, Jr.

Criminal case

Muhammad was captured in Maryland, where most of the attacks and murders took place. Although Maryland sought to bring him to trial, United States attorney general John Ashcroft reassigned the case from the Maryland prosecutor Doug Gansler, a Democrat, to a Republican prosecutor in Virginia, Jerry W. Kilgore. Kilgore was planning to run for governor.

In October 2003, Muhammad went on trial for the murder of Dean Meyers at a Prince William County service station near the city of Manassas. The trial had been moved from Prince William County, to Virginia Beach, approximately 200 miles away. Muhammad was granted the right to represent himself in his defense, and dismissed his legal counsel, though he immediately switched back to having legal representation after his opening argument. Muhammad was charged with murder, terrorism, conspiracy and the illegal use of a firearm, and faced a possible death sentence. Prosecutors said the shootings were part of a plot to extort $10 million from local and state governments. The prosecution said that they would make the case for 16 shootings allegedly involving Muhammad. The terrorism charge against Muhammad required prosecutors to prove he committed at least two shootings in a three-year period.

The prosecution called more than 130 witnesses and introduced more than 400 pieces of evidence intended to prove that Muhammad undertook the murders and ordered Malvo to help carry it out. Evidence included a rifle, found in Muhammad's car, that was linked by ballistics tests not only to 8 of the 10 killings in the Washington area but also to 2 others, in Louisiana and Alabama; the car itself, which was modified so that a sniper could shoot from inside the trunk; and a laptop computer, also found in the car, that contained maps with icons pinpointing shooting scenes.

There were also witness accounts that put Muhammad across the street from one shooting and his car near the scene of several others. There was also a recorded phone call to a police hotline in which a man, his voice identified by a detective as Muhammad's, demanded money in exchange for stopping the shootings.

Muhammad's defense asked the court to drop the capital murder charges due to the fact that there was no direct evidence. Malvo's fingerprints were on the Bushmaster rifle found in Muhammad's car, and genetic material from Muhammad himself was also discovered on the rifle, but the defense contended that Muhammad could not be put to death under Virginia's so-called trigger-man law unless he actually pulled the trigger to kill Meyers, and no one testified that they saw him do so.

On November 17, 2003, by verdict of his jury, Muhammad was convicted in Virginia of all four counts in the indictment against him: capital murder for the shooting of Dean H. Meyers; a second charge of capital murder under Virginia's antiterrorism statute, for homicide committed with an intent to terrorize the government or the public at large; conspiracy to commit murder; and the illegal use of a firearm.

In the penalty phase of the trial, the jury after five hours of deliberation over two days unanimously recommended that Muhammad should be sentenced to death. On March 9, 2004, a Virginia judge agreed with the jury's recommendation and sentenced John Allen Muhammad to death.

On April 22, 2005, the Virginia Supreme Court affirmed his death penalty, stating that Muhammad could be sentenced to death because the murder was part of an act of terrorism. The court also rejected an argument by defense lawyers that he could not be sentenced to death because he was not the triggerman in the killings done by Muhammad and his young accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo. Virginia Supreme Court Justice Donald W. Lemons said at the time, "With calculation, extensive planning, premeditation and ruthless disregard for life, Muhammad carried out his cruel scheme of terror."

In May 2005, Maryland and Virginia reached an agreement to allow his extradition to face Maryland charges, but Muhammad was fighting the action legally. He was held at the maximum security Sussex I State Prison near Waverly in Sussex County, Virginia, which houses Virginia's death row inmates. While awaiting execution in Virginia, in August 2005, he was extradited to Montgomery County, Maryland to face charges there.

On May 30, 2006, a Maryland jury found John Allen Muhammad guilty of six counts of murder in Maryland. In return, he was sentenced to six consecutive life terms without possibility of parole on June 1, 2006. Neither Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, or Washington State moved to try Muhammad, given his death sentence for murder in Virginia. In 2006, Malvo confessed that the pair also killed victims in California, Arizona, and Texas, making 17 victims.

On May 6, 2008, it was revealed that Muhammad asked prosecutors in a letter to help him end legal appeals of his conviction and death sentence "so that you can murder this innocent black man." An appeal filed by Muhammad's defense lawyers in April 2008 cited evidence of brain damage that would render Muhammad incompetent to make legal decisions, and that he should not have been allowed to represent himself at his Virginia trial.

On September 16, 2009, Muhammad's execution date was set for November 10, 2009. On November 9, 2009, Muhammad's death sentence appeal was denied by the US Supreme Court. Justice Stevens, joined by Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor, wrote a separate opinion stating that Virginia's rush to set an execution date "highlights once again the perversity of executing inmates before their appeals process have been fully concluded," while noting that they concurred with the decision that the appeal ought not be heard.

Civil case

In 2003, Malvo, Muhammad and Chad White were named in a major civil lawsuit by the Legal Action Project of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence on behalf of two of their victims who were seriously wounded and the families of some of those murdered. Although Malvo and Muhammad were each believed to be indigent, codefendants Bull's Eye Shooter Supply and Bushmaster Firearms, Inc. contributed to a landmark $2.5 million out-of-court settlement in late 2004.

Testimony of Lee Boyd Malvo

In John Allen Muhammad's May 2006 trial in Montgomery County, Maryland, Lee Boyd Malvo, who is serving a sentence of life without parole for his role in the shootings, took the stand and confessed to a more detailed version of the pair's plans. Malvo, after extensive psychological counseling, admitted that he was lying at the earlier Virginia trial where he had admitted to being the triggerman for every shooting. Malvo claimed that he had said this in order to protect John Allen Muhammad from the potential death penalty, because it was more difficult to achieve the death penalty for a minor. Malvo said that he wanted to do what little he could for the families of the victims by letting the full story be told. In his two days of testimony, Malvo outlined many very detailed aspects of all the shootings.

Part of his testimony concerned John Allen Muhammad's complete multiphase plan. His plan consisted of three phases in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore metro areas. Phase One consisted of meticulously planning, mapping, and practicing their locations around the DC area. This way after each shooting they would be able to quickly leave the area on a predetermined path, and move on to the next location. John Allen Muhammad's goal in Phase One was to kill 6 white people a day for 30 days (180 per month). Malvo went on to describe how Phase One did not go as planned due to heavy traffic and the lack of a clear shot and/or getaway at different locations.

Phase Two was meant to be moved up to Baltimore. Malvo described how this phase was close to being implemented, but never was carried out. Phase Two would begin with the killing of a pregnant woman with a shot to the abdomen. The next step would have been to shoot and kill a Baltimore City police officer. Then, at the officer's funeral, they were to detonate several improvised explosive devices complete with shrapnel. These explosives were intended to kill a large number of officers, since many of them would be at a comrade's funeral.

Phase Three was to take place very shortly after, if not during, Phase Two. The third phase was to extort several million dollars from the United States government. This money would be used to finance a larger plan to travel north into Canada, stopping along the way in YMCAs and orphanages recruiting other impressionable young boys with no parents or guidance. John Allen Muhammad thought he could act as their father figure as he did with Lee Boyd Malvo. Once he recruited a large number of young boys and made his way up to Canada, he would begin their training. Malvo described how John Allen Muhammad intended to train the youths with weapons and stealth, as he had been taught. After their training was complete, John Allen Muhammad would send them out across the United States to carry out mass shootings in many different cities, just as he had done in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.

Execution

Wikinews has related news: Washington, DC sniper John Allen Muhammad executed by lethal injection

On September 15, 2009, a Virginia judge set a November 10, 2009, execution date for Muhammad. On November 9, 2009, the Supreme Court of the United States refused a last-minute appeal. On November 10, hours before Muhammad's scheduled execution, pleas for clemency were denied by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.

Under Virginia law, an inmate is allowed to choose the method by which he or she will be put to death, either lethal injection or the electric chair. Because Muhammad declined to select a method, by law, the method of lethal injection was selected for him. He was offered a selection of a last meal, which he accepted, but refused publication of its contents. However, his former attorney, J. Wyndal Gordon, told the Associated Press that his last meal consisted of chicken with red sauce and "some cakes".

The execution began at 9:00 PM EST at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Virginia. According to the official statement of the prison spokesperson, the actual lethal injection process started at 9:06 pm EST. He was then pronounced dead at 9:11 PM EST; he declined to make a final statement. The family's reaction was not discussed, nor apparently known outside of the family viewing room. His family plans to bury Muhammad in his native Louisiana.

 
 

Sniper Who Killed 10 Is Executed in Virginia

By Ian Urbina - The New York Times

November 11, 2009

WASHINGTON — John A. Muhammad, whose murderous shooting spree in the fall of 2002 left at least 10 dead, was executed at a Virginia state prison on Tuesday night. The execution closed a case that fixated the region ever since local residents were gunned down while doing the most mundane tasks, like shopping or pumping gas.

Mr. Muhammad, 48, was executed at the Greensville Correctional Center. He offered no final words as he entered the death chamber, and Larry Traylor, a prison official, said the process had gone smoothly. Mr. Muhammad retained a calm demeanor throughout, and once he was strapped to a gurney to receive a lethal injection, he closed his eyes, Mr. Taylor said. He was pronounced dead at 9:11 pm.

On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to intervene in the case of Mr. Muhammad, 48, who was sentenced to die for the killing of Dean H. Meyers, an engineer who was shot in the head at a gasoline station in Manassas, Va.

Mr. Meyers was one of 10 people killed in Maryland, Virginia and Washington over three weeks in October 2002. Mr. Muhammad’s accomplice, Lee B. Malvo, who was 17 at the time, was sentenced to life in prison without parole. The two are also suspected of fatal shootings in Alabama, Arizona and Louisiana.

On Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia said he would not stay the scheduled execution. “I find no compelling reason to set aside the sentence that was recommended by the jury and then imposed and affirmed by the courts,” Mr. Kaine said in a written statement. “Accordingly, I decline to intervene.”

The random nature of Mr. Muhammad’s shootings left people fearful and led many to remain indoors as much as possible to avoid becoming a target. When the police announced that witnesses had reported having spotted white box trucks near the scenes of the shootings, the public became obsessed with the ubiquitous work vehicles and a sense of panic often beset people sitting at an intersection near such trucks.

After a teenager was shot outside his Maryland school, local officials decided to keep schoolchildren inside at recess and they began drilling on duck-and-cover techniques.

While the Supreme Court did not comment in refusing to hear Mr. Muhammad’s appeal, three justices objected to the relative haste accompanying the execution. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that he did not disagree with the majority’s decision to decline the case, but he complained that “under our normal practice,” Mr. Muhammad’s petition for the court to take his case would have been discussed at the justices’ conference scheduled for Nov. 24.

But because Virginia scheduled the execution for Tuesday, the judicial process was rushed, Justice Stevens said in a statement joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.

After Mr. Muhammad was sentenced to death in Virginia for shooting Mr. Meyers, Maryland prosecutors arranged to have him tried again for six murders in Montgomery County. At that trial, Mr. Malvo, who is now 24, testified at length. Throughout both trials and a number of subsequent appeals, Mr. Muhammad continued to profess his innocence.

A soldier-turned-auto-mechanic, Mr. Muhammad held a deep grudge against his ex-wife and society. During the Maryland trial, Mr. Malvo testified that the intent of their shooting spree had been to create havoc to cover for Mr. Muhammad’s plans to kidnap his three children. The longer-term goal, Mr. Malvo said, was to extort law enforcement into giving them money to stop the shootings. Mr. Muhammad planned to take the money and move to Canada with Mr. Malvo and his three children, Mr. Malvo said.

In Canada, Mr. Malvo said, Mr. Muhammad planned to create a training ground for 140 young homeless men whom he would send out to wreak similar havoc and to “shut things down” in cities across the United States.

Although Governor Kaine, a Democrat, has said in the past that he is personally opposed to the death penalty, he has allowed a number of executions since he took office in 2006. Under Virginia law, a prisoner is allowed to choose the method of execution — either lethal injection or the electric chair. Mr. Muhammad declined to select a method, so, by law, he was ordered to receive a lethal injection.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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