Victim Could Face Sniper Suspect

One of the victims of last year's Washington-area sniper spree could end up facing defendant and defense counsel John Allen Muhammad in the courtroom.

Kellie Adams, who was critically wounded in a shooting outside the Montgomery, Ala., liquor store where she worked, said she's apprehensive about having Muhammad, who's acting as his own attorney, cross-examine her.

Adams and store manager Claudine Parker were shot as they were locking up the store on Sept. 21, 2002. Parker was killed and Adams had her jaw shattered by a bullet, resulting in five surgeries.

"I can't imagine what went through the judge's head when he allowed him to be his own lawyer," Adams said Monday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "There's nothing worse than having to look at the man who tried to kill you."

Muhammad, 42, is being tried in the slaying of Dean Harold Meyers, 53, who was gunned down outside a northern Virginia gas station last October. He was the seventh victim in a three-week shooting spree that left 10 people dead in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Besides those shootings, Muhammad and 18-year-old Lee Boyd Malvo are suspected or charged in shootings in four other states, including outside the Montgomery liquor store.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, complained Tuesday that Muhammad is getting too much help from his standby lawyers as he acts as his own attorney.

"It's apparent the defendant cannot act as his own counsel," assistant prosecutor Richard Conway said during the second day of testimony in the capital murder trial. "The current situation is intolerable."

Circuit Judge LeRoy F. Millette Jr. agreed that Muhammad was getting too much help, but said he "appears to be competently representing himself, appears to be asking questions appropriately, seems to understand his legal rights."

Millette said lawyers Peter Greenspun and Jonathan Shapiro should interact with Muhammad only when he specifically requests help. Muhammad agreed to physically separate himself from the lawyers.

The exchange came after Muhammad withdrew a request that might have allowed him to introduce mental health evidence at sentencing to persuade a jury to spare his life.

"I've changed my mind on that," Muhammad told Millette.

Muhammad has been barred from presenting any mental health evidence because he refused to meet with prosecutors' expert. On Monday, he had asked Millette to reconsider that ruling. He dropped the request Tuesday.

Although Muhammad is not pursuing an insanity defense, testimony about his mental condition might be considered as mitigating evidence to spare him the death penalty if he is convicted. Lawyers for Malvo intend to mount an insanity defense.

In a rambling but adamant 20-minute opening statement Monday, Muhammad told the jury the evidence "will all show I had nothing to do with these crimes." Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen says "Muhammad isn't doing a terrible job as his own lawyer. He has asked witnesses some common-sense questions that jurors probably appreciated hearing the answers to. But over the long haul of the trial, he is clearly not going to be able to master what is really a very complex prosecution case."

On Tuesday, a Prince William County police officer said he spoke to Muhammad just a half hour after the Meyers shooting, but let him go.

Officer Steven Bailey said Muhammad was "very polite and very courteous" as he drove his Chevrolet Caprice out of a restaurant parking lot where authorities believe the sniper shot was fired.

Bailey said Muhammad told him police had directed him into the lot as they secured the crime scene. Bailey learned later that was untrue.

"I didn't catch on. I wish I had," Bailey told Muhammad on cross-examination.

Bailey also found a Baltimore map book at the restaurant parking lot, which was later determined to have Muhammad's fingerprints on it. The map book is one of the few pieces of physical evidence linking Muhammad to the Manassas crime scene.

On Monday, Malvo was brought into the courtroom for about two minutes so a witness could identify him. He exchanged the briefest of glances with Muhammad but did not take the stand.

The witness, bank employee Linda Thompson testified she saw Muhammad and Malvo outside her bank shortly before Meyers was gunned down while pumping gasoline nearby.

Muhammad refused to cross-examine Thompson in Malvo's presence but later asked the woman: "Was it because we was black that you remember us?"

She denied their race was an issue, saying instead that their out-of-state license plates caught her eye.

Larry Meyers, brother of the shooting victim, also testified Monday, speaking briefly about his brother's life, including military service in Vietnam.

Larry Meyers identified his brother from a snapshot, with prosecutor Paul Ebert asking, "Does this represent your brother in life?" and then from a bloody crime-scene photo, with the prosecutor asking, "Does this show your brother in death?"

Muhammad did not cross-examine Larry Meyers.

Muhammad and Malvo were arrested last Oct. 24 at a highway rest stop in Maryland. Prosecutors have said the shootings were part of a plot to extort $10 million from the government.

Muhammad's trial was moved to Virginia Beach after defense lawyers argued that every northern Virginia resident could be considered a victim because of the fear the shootings caused.