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Survivors of D.C. sniper shootings describe fear

/ Source: The Associated Press

Jurors in the second trial of sniper John Allen Muhammad heard testimony Tuesday from two people who survived the shootings, including a teenager who was shot outside his school when he was 13.

Iran Brown described the pain he felt on Oct. 7, 2002. 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 couldn’t breathe and I was scared,” said Brown, now a 17-year-old high school junior.

Another survivor, Caroline Seawell, recalled being shot in the back Oct. 4, 2002, as she loaded Halloween decorations into her minivan at a Virginia shopping center. She calmly testified how the bullet passed through her chest and struck her minivan.

“I dropped to the ground and prayed that God would let me live so that I could take care of my kids,” Seawell said.

Muhammad, who is acting as his own attorney, did not ask Brown any questions, but asked Seawell whether she heard the shot or saw where the bullet came from.

Prosecutors are detailing the 10 sniper murders and three woundings that began Oct. 2 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 already is on death row in Virginia for a 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. Malvo’s trial is set for the fall.

Seeking reasonable doubt
Also Tuesday, Muhammad tried to cast doubt on evidence linking the shootings to the type of high-powered rifle found inside his Chevrolet 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 the size of the wounds caused by the bullets.

In his cross-examinations, Muhammad prodded them repeatedly to say it was possible another type of weapon, such as a handgun, could have created similar wounds.