May 24, 2006 in Nation/World

D.C. sniper testifies against former cohort

Stephen Manning Associated Press
 

ROCKVILLE, Md. – John Allen Muhammad had grand plans to extort millions of dollars from authorities in the 2002 Washington-area sniper shootings so he could set up a camp to train children how to terrorize cities and “shut things down,” accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo testified Tuesday.

Asked whether he believed Muhammad’s plans, Malvo said yes.

“He’s a man of his word. If he tells you he is going to do something, it is done,” Malvo said. “If he says it, it is legit.”

Malvo, who had never before taken the witness stand against his fellow sniper, gave the most detailed account yet of the planning that went into the three-week shooting spree that left 10 people dead at gas stations and parking lots.

Malvo also said Muhammad devised a two-phase plan to shoot as many as six random people each day for 30 days in the Washington area and then target children and police officers with explosives. They planned to place explosives on school buses in Baltimore, kill a Baltimore police officer and then set off explosives packed with ball bearings at the officer’s funeral.

When Malvo asked Muhammad why, he said, “For the sheer terror of it – the worst thing you can do to people is aim at their children.”

Midway through the spree, Malvo said, Muhammad described the plans to take money they would extort from authorities to end the sniper shootings and establish a Canadian commune to train 140 homeless children in terrorist shooting and bombings to “continue the mission” in other cities.

Muhammad, 45, and Malvo, now 21, were arrested Oct. 24, 2002, at a western Maryland rest stop.

They have already been convicted in Virginia for a sniper murder there. Muhammad received a death sentence while Malvo was given a life term.

Prosecutors in Maryland have said they are pursuing a second trial in case the Virginia conviction is overturned on appeal and to seek justice in Montgomery County, where six of the 10 killings occurred.

The last time the two came face-to-face was in October 2003, when Malvo was brought in at Muhammad’s first trial. Malvo refused to testify, invoking his constitutional right against self-incrimination.

Before testifying, Malvo told the judge that he intends to plead guilty to murder charges against him in Montgomery County for six life sentences.

He appeared nervous but was expressionless when he entered the courtroom, looking generally in Muhammad’s direction but not making direct eye contact.

Muhammad, who is acting as his own lawyer, said in his opening statement that both he and Malvo were innocent and that they were merely roaming the area looking for Muhammad’s children who were taken away from him after a previous marriage.

Malvo shifted uncomfortably when Muhammad began his cross-examination. Muhammad has referred to Malvo as his son throughout the four-week trial, but told Malvo he would refer to him as “Mr. Malvo” at the request of prosecutors.

Asked by a prosecutor why he chose to testify against Muhammad, Malvo said: “I think he is a coward.” He then glared at Muhammad.

“You took me into your house and you made me a monster,” he said.

© Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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