Affidavit: Muhammad called Malvo 'Sniper'
Material witness may make court appearance Wednesday
GREENBELT, Maryland (CNN) -- John Allen Muhammad, charged in a 20-count federal complaint as the killer in seven of the Washington-area sniper shootings, gave his alleged teen accomplice the nickname "Sniper" months before the killings began, according to an affidavit filed with the charges.
Meanwhile, a material witness in the case may appear in federal court Wednesday in Greenbelt. Nathaniel Osbourne, the registered co-owner of the 1990 Chevrolet Caprice that the suspects were captured in, was arrested Saturday in Michigan. (Full story)
Muhammad, 41, appeared in U.S. District Court on Tuesday afternoon, several hours after the federal complaint was filed against him.
Neither the complaint nor the affidavit names Muhammad's alleged accomplice, John Lee Malvo, 17, because he is a juvenile. Records show he will be 18 in February.
Malvo already has been charged, along with Muhammad, in Montgomery County, Maryland, three counties in Virginia and Montgomery, Alabama. (Charges by jurisdiction)
The two also have been named as suspects in a February slaying in Tacoma, Washington. (Full story)
The affidavit, filed and signed by agents of the FBI and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, details the key points of the investigation into the three-week shooting spree that left 10 people dead and three wounded.
The affidavit said each shot was taken from a distance and several were close to highway exit ramps. According to the affidavit, authorities test-fired a Bushmaster rifle found in the suspects' car and the bullet matched ballistics tests in all but two of the 13 shootings.
Inside the Chevrolet Caprice, authorities found a global positioning system unit, a Sony laptop computer, a pair of two-way radios, a .223-caliber bullet, a Bushmaster rifle and a cotton glove similar to one found at a shooting scene, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit cites a Muhammad associate in Tacoma as the source of the "Sniper" nickname reference. Both suspects lived in Tacoma for a while. The affidavit does not mention Malvo by name but refers to him as "John Doe, juvenile." (More on the affidavit)
The writing on a note found with a Tarot card in the middle school shooting in Bowie, Maryland, and near the October 19 shooting at a Ponderosa restaurant in Ashland, Virginia, "were probably written by one and the same person," the affidavit says.
The letter found in Ashland demanded $10 million to be paid into a Visa platinum account from a credit card stolen in Arizona in March, the affidavit says. That evidence was the basis of the extortion charges.
In the letter, a copy of which CNN obtained and reported on last Saturday, the letter writer wrote that he was frustrated because he had repeatedly tried to call the FBI tip line and other law enforcement numbers to discuss "negotiations."
He also wrote that he had called the main phone number for the CNN Washington bureau.
CNN reported at the time that it did not have any knowledge of such a call. CNN continues to be unaware of whether the sniper or someone associated with the shootings made such a call.
However, subsequent conversations with CNN employees showed that two calls came into the bureau -- one on the evening of October 16 and a similar one the next day -- in which a caller from Washington, D.C., talked briefly about people being "snatched and killed in Broward County."
For the record, there is no Broward County in Maryland or Virginia, where the killings were taking place.
In the October 16 call, the caller said he had been trying to reach the police and needed to talk with them, and that the police needed to be called if more killings were to be avoided. When asked for more details, the caller gave none, and then hung up.
He called again the next day, but again hung up after a very brief conversation without giving any more information.
The caller never identified himself as the sniper and never implied that he was. While CNN does not know who made the calls, it has made this information available to law enforcement officials.
Ashcroft calls for 'ultimate sanction'
Federal officials said the United States would be able to seek the death penalty against Muhammad under a federal law that makes it a capital crime to use a gun during a criminal act that causes someone's death.
The complaint names seven killings -- the six in Montgomery County, Maryland, and the one in the District of Columbia -- for which Muhammad could be executed upon conviction. The Virginia shootings were not included in the federal filing because not all the local jurisdictions have filed charges.
"I believe that the ultimate sanction ought to be available here," said Attorney General John Ashcroft
Public defender Jim Wyda urged the public "to respect" the judicial process, saying "at this point we still have not heard any evidence in a court of law against Mr. Muhammad."
"He has never been convicted of another crime at any time, anywhere," Wyda told reporters outside U.S. District Court. "Now today, he stands accused of an incomprehensible crime -- one that has had a profound impact on our community and has destroyed the lives of good people and innocent families."
Wyda said a detention hearing was set for Tuesday, and "after that, we'll have an arraignment where we'll set a schedule for these cases to be tried in federal court."
Sources said the federal charges would not have any bearing on which jurisdiction would be the first to try the suspects.
One of Muhammad's ex-wives and their son said Tuesday they would support the death penalty for Muhammad if he's convicted of the shootings.
Carol Williams told CNN's "Larry King Live" that she thinks Muhammad "just snapped." (Full story)