Thu, May 11, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Victims recount US sniper attack

MAKING SURE Gunshot survivors on Tuesday testified in a trial prosecutors bill as insurance in case sniper John Allen Muhammad's Virginia conviction is overturned


The curly hair of the one-time middle schooler is now cut short, his frame is bigger and he is thinking about college. A high school junior, Iran Brown, 17, dreams of playing basketball at Duke University.

But Brown clearly remembers Oct. 7, 2002, when the then 13-year-old was shot as he walked in front of Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie, Maryland, the eighth victim of the Washington area sniper. The bullet destroyed most of his stomach and some of his spleen, and left him terrified as he called out to his aunt for help.

"I was in pain. I couldn't breathe and I was scared," said Brown, who was struck below the chest, testifying on Tuesday in sniper John Allen Muhammad's second trial for the sniper killings.

Muhammad, who is acting as his own attorney, did not ask any questions.

Brown was the second person to survive a sniper shooting who spoke at Muhammad's trial on Tuesday.

Caroline Seawell recalled being shot in the back on Oct. 4, 2002, as she loaded Halloween decorations into her minivan in the parking lot of a Fredericksburg, Virginia, shopping center.

Seawell, who remained conscious as she waited for paramedics to arrive, calmly told the Montgomery County jury how the bullet passed through her chest and struck her minivan.

Using a laser pointer, she explained photos of her bloody body lying on a hospital bed, saying her lung and liver were badly damaged.

"I dropped to the ground and prayed that God would let me live so that I could take care of my kids," Seawell, who has two children, said of the moment she was hit.

Muhammad asked Seawell only a few questions, such as whether she heard the shot or saw where the bullet came from.

Prosecutors are building a chronological case against Muhammad, detailing the 10 sniper mur-ders and three woundings that began on Oct. 2, 2002, and ended with Muhammad and accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo's arrest three weeks later.

Muhammad is charged with six Maryland murders, but prosecutors are detailing other shootings to establish a pattern. Muhammad is already on death row in Virginia for a Manassas, Virginia, sniper killing and Malvo is serving a life term for another Virginia murder.

Maryland prosecutors bill the new trial as insurance in case Muhammad's Virginia conviction is overturned.

Evidence was also presented on Tuesday in the Oct. 3 murder of Pascal Charlot at a Washington intersection. Charlot was the last of five people killed that day by sniper bullets.

A police officer testified he stopped Muhammad for running two stop signs near the intersection just two hours before the shooting. And two people who worked at a Jamaican restaurant at the shooting scene said they saw the car slink away from the murder scene.

"There was something creepy to me, it looked out of place," said Karl Largie, who saw the car before and after the shooting.

Muhammad tried to cast doubt on evidence linking the shootings to the type of high-powered rifle found inside the Caprice when he and Malvo were arrested.

Two medical examiners testified that they believed the fatal wounds suffered by the victims were caused by a high-powered rifle, noting telltale signs such as the size of the wounds caused by the bullets.

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