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Sniper Trial Resumes

A woman who was killed outside an Alabama liquor store the month before the Washington-area sniper spree likely died from a shot from a high-powered rifle, a witness testified Friday.

The day after a courthouse power failure halted the proceedings, the trial of sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad resumed with testimony that could indicate that Muhammad himself fired the fatal shot in the Alabama case.

Emily Ward, a medical examiner with the state of Alabama, testified that Claudine Parker, 52, died after being shot in the back. Parker was killed during a robbery on Sept. 21, 2002, in Montgomery, Ala.

The bullet broke through Parker's spinal cord and created a "snowstorm effect" as bullet fragments broke off in her body, and it was likely fired from a high-powered rifle, Ward said.

"We also saw the same snowstorm effect" in the bullet that wounded coworker Kellie Adams, 24, who survived, Ward testified.

Evidence of a rifle would bolster a theory that Muhammad fired the fatal shot in that case, rather than fellow suspect Lee Boyd Malvo. Witnesses on Wednesday said they saw Malvo carrying a handgun as he robbed the women. Adams testified she never heard the shot that hit her.

Evidence in most of the sniper shootings has suggested that Malvo was the triggerman.

Muhammad is being tried on capital murder charges in the slaying of Dean Harold Meyers at a Virginia gasoline station during a spree last October that left 10 people dead.

Thursday's twist in the surprise-filled trial had nothing to do with the case itself. A failed transformer knocked out power at the courthouse, forcing officials to postpone the trial for a day.

On Wednesday, Muhammad gave up acting as his own attorney and rehired his court-appointed lawyers. Muhammad had demanded to represent himself just before opening statements Monday.

In another development, a Fairfax judge on Thursday rejected a prosecution request to delay Malvo's trial, which is due to start next month.

"This really is almost an unstoppable train at this point," said Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush.

Prosecutors had asked that the trial be postponed for a month to Dec. 10, in part so their mental health expert had time to examine Malvo. Instead, the expert will be allowed to continue evaluating Malvo during the trial, the judge said.

Malvo's attorneys gave notice earlier this month that they planned to present an insanity defense, and Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said in a motion Wednesday that the state's mental health expert needed 30 days to evaluate Malvo.

The judge said she considered the logistical complications a delay would involve. She said 250 potential jurors had been subpoenaed, as well as about 35 out-of-state witnesses.