John Allen Muhammad's opening statement
(CNN) -- Washington-area sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad won the right to defend himself Monday in his trial on murder, terrorism, conspiracy and firearms charges. Muhammad faces the death penalty if convicted of the murder or terrorism charge.
Here is Muhammad's opening statement to the jury:
MUHAMMAD: Good evening.
I would like to thank the judge for giving me the opportunity to speak. I want to talk to you briefly on some things that [prosecutors] talked about.
One of the things that we are here for today and the next couple days is to find out what everyone wants to know is what happened. Something happened. We have his side, and we have my side. If both of us -- one picture and come up with two different stories. Something is wrong. Somebody is not telling the truth. Somebody's lying. I got sworn in. I'm sure they got sworn in, and everyone that gets up on the stand gets sworn in. We are all going to get sworn in. We are going to ask to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
One of the things I like -- I like reading and learning about words. One of the things I was fascinated in coming into this strange world to me is three truths. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I always thought it was just the truth. Apparently I was wrong, so I did some checking to find out what is it about these three truths? Same thing but yet they are different.
Well, the whole truth. What is the whole truth? The whole truth, what I found out when I asked that is, Don't take anything away from the truth, which means when we take something away from it, it's not a whole anymore. If we do that, that's a lie. If we do that, we are deceiving. What's nothing but the truth? Well, that means you don't add nothing to the truth. If we do that, we [are] deceiving. We are telling a lie, so this is why it's important that we tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But how do we jump from the truth to the whole truth to nothing but the truth when at one time all we had was the truth? Jesus said, "You shall know the truth." He didn't say you shall know the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The truth. For what happened between that time and this time to where we got to deal with three truths?
Well, I found out as man evolved with wisdom and understanding, we also evolved with deceitfulness in our lives. It seems we found out how to tell the truth with a lie, and upon upholding the standard of telling the truth, you could be prosecuted for lying. He was still telling the truth, so what he did as we evolved in understanding things, the scientists or the wise people at that time realized this person's lying. Yet they're telling the truth.
Now, how can that be so? Well, let me give you an example. It's kind of like this. If I say I don't like basketball, that's my opinion. I don't like basketball. But if someone else come along and says, I like basketball, then in actuality what he just said is what I said, but it's not the whole truth of what I said. He left something out. Therefore, it cannot be considered the truth. It's a lie.
So we continue to tell these stories and continue to tell these stories to where we have to come up with the three truths -- the whole truth and nothing but the truth; and now that's where we are right now, which means if a person gets up on that stand and don't respect all three truths, then they can be prosecuted for telling a lie; and upon the law they can get up on the stand and lie and still tell the truth and not be prosecuted. That's why they changed it. Just the facts that we need. The facts should help us to identify what's the truth and what's not the truth and what is a lie and what's not a lie. OK. In knowing what our wisdom and our understanding, as we evolve, we knew how to manipulate things. Put something here that shouldn't be there, put something here that shouldn't be there, and became more and more confusing, and now we have science and a whole lot of other more things into it to prove that is the truth or to disprove that is the truth, and it became more and more confusing.
I heard him talk about his family. Anytime I deal with anything, I always reflect back on my children, whom I love very much; and I remember an incident when I was in the Caribbean; and my favorite daughter, Taliba -- she loves chocolate. She loves chocolate cookies. As I was leaving, she said, "Daddy, can I have some chocolate cookies?" and I said, "Sure. I come back, we'll go to the store, and we'll get some chocolate cookies, but don't go in the cookie jar and get no chocolate cookies until I come back." She said, "I won't, Daddy. I won't."
So I leave. I come back about an hour later. I see my baby daughter out in the yard with cookies in her hands and eating chocolate cookies. I am upset now because from what I see, she disobeyed. I got the evidence in her hand. I got her eating cookies. I even got her sister saying she saw her going in the cookie jar; so I'm very upset now because my baby daughter have lied to me. That's what I am thinking, so I go up to here, and she starts hiding the cookies. That is more proof. She is being deceiving now, so I tell her I want to see her in the house. She come in the house; and whenever I have a dispute with my children, first thing I do is I pick them up and I put them up at least eye level or above me to where I look up to them, and that way I can remind myself don't be disrespectful to them, and I ask her. I say, "Didn't I tell you don't go in the cookie jar?" and she said, "Dad --" I said, "Don't say nothing. Don't say nothing. Didn't I tell you don't go in the cookie jar?" She say, "Yes, sir."
I said, "Didn't I tell you, Don't eat no more of these cookies out of the cookie jar until I get back?" She said, "Dad --" I say, "Shut up and answer my question."
She say, "Yes, sir."
I say, "Why did you disobey me?"
"Well, Dad, I didn't --"
I said, "Why did you disobey me?"
She said nothing. So I say, Go in the room, and I come in there and I deal with you later; so she go in the room crying. When she go in the room crying, she yelled for her big brother John, who always protects her; so she yelled for him. He come running in the room worrying about his sister. "Taliba, Taliba, what's wrong?"
She said, "Daddy going to spank me because I didn't listen to him."
So I come in the room, and my son said, "Daddy, what is wrong?"
I said, "Taliba disobeyed me. She went in the cookie jar, and I told her don't go in the cookie jar. She eating cookies, and I told her, 'Don't eat any cookies until we eat;' " and my son told me -- he said, "Daddy, you don't know what happened. You just guessing. You want to hear?"
I said, "So what you telling me? Don't believe my lying eyes?"
He said, "Dad, I'm not saying you lie. I'm saying that you don't know what happened. You wasn't here." He said, "I was here." He said, "Do you want to hear the truth?" I said, "Yes, tell me the truth."
He said, "Well, what happened, Dad, right after you left, Taliba came and asked me for some cookies; so I went to the store and I bought her some cookies, chocolate cookies; and when she got full, I told her to go put the rest of the cookies in the cookie jar."
That was the time that her sister saw her actually going in the cookie jar, but what her sister didn't know, she wasn't taking cookies out of the jar; she was actually putting cookies in the jar; and I didn't know. I thought Salina -- Taliba had disobeyed me, but she really hadn't disobeyed me. She actually got cookies from the store and not out of the cookie jar. I asked her not to take cookies out of the cookie jar, and she didn't, but I was basing that on what I saw. I was basing that on what I guessed at what happened, but I didn't know that's what happened, so John told me that.
So I asked Taliba. I lost my memory now. I asked Taliba, "Why didn't you tell me?" I done forgot all about telling her to be quiet -- like what these people told me. Be quiet. Go to jail, and you are not going to say nothing, and that's what I did. Taliba did exactly what I told her to do. She didn't say anything, so when I told her, "Why didn't you tell me?" she looked up -- looked down at me and said, "Daddy, you told me to be quiet;" and I told John -- I said, "John, so you want me to believe what you just told me?" and he said the same thing. He said, "Daddy, you don't know what happened. I was here. I know what happened."
And I say to these people. We know something happened. They wasn't there. I was. I know what happened, and I know what didn't happen. They are basing -- what they have done to me and what they are saying on a theory -- and I just want to speak on that for a minute. A theory. I was locked up based on a theory. I was denied bail based on a theory. As a matter of fact, there was two theories. The first theory was I was homeless, living in homeless shelter, and poor.
Well, if that was true, then why not -- why shouldn't the judge offer me bail? Because if I'm homeless, poor, and living in a homeless shelter, I'm not going to be able to make bail anyway. That's the first theory.
Then after that, he said, And, Your Honor, we don't know where this man lives. He goes in and out of the country anytime he wants to.
That's the second theory. The second theory is what they are worried about, because he knew if I was able -- if he gave me bail, I would be able to make the bail, and then I would not be locked up in a hole and I could come out here and represent myself to the people instead of all you are hearing is the negative side of my human being, so that way is the only time that I will be able to represent myself here in the court because out there in the street there is so much being said about this man to dehumanize me first, attack my family, attack me indirectly and directly, attack my children and everything else; and I'm still sitting there listening to all this stuff going on from people who don't know what happened.
Now, I'm not saying they don't know what happened. Those are not my words. They are saying they don't know what happened. They are saying that their entire case is based on a theory -- and I say a theory, one. They are saying theories. What's a theory? See, this is a new world. I mean this is a new world for me. I mean I'm learning language that I didn't even think exists; so I looked up the word "theory". It said many different things, but it ends up with a guess. A guess, an opinion. It's a guess. Assumption is a guess.
I'm locked up. I'm denied my constitutional right based on a guess. I mean what is it about a human life to where we have reduced it to where we can take it based on a guess? A guess. You can lock a man up and forget he's there and go out and say every negative thing in the world you can possibly say about him based on a guess; and ironically about all this, once all this is over, by the grace of the law that I am found guilty -- not guilty -- these men -- you know what they are going to do? They will say, "Next." No "I'm sorry." No apologies. Just, "Next. Who's the next victim? Who else can we get?" And the beat goes on and it goes on and goes on. A guess, people, is not enough to take a human being life. A guess is not enough to lock an individual up and deny him his constitutional right to bail so that he can defend himself. A guess is, Who's next? The truth. You got the positive side, the positive side, which is the truth. Then what's the negative side. It's a lie. No. Can a person tell a lie and not be a liar? Yeah, they can tell lies and not be a liar. It's because they don't know the truth. They are repeating what someone told them. They are lying, but they don't know they're lying.
What is a liar? A liar is when you know the truth and you willfully deceive someone in thinking what you are saying is the truth. Now, that is a lie, and that's a liar.
In the Caribbean we call -- there is two lies that we call. We say it's a wicked lie and an insane lie. It's a wicked liar and an insane liar. What's the difference between a liar who tells the lie and a wicked liar and an insane liar?
A wicked liar, when he lies, he starts gathering people around him that he can convince of his lie. They start telling the lie, and he starts gathering information to support his lie. He knows it's a lie; but if you get up enough information and you and people start believing that lie as the truth -- now he always knows it's a lie; but the other people always think it's the truth because they don't think he would lie to them. That's a wicked lie.
Now, what's an insane lie? That's the one I have a problem with. An insane lie. An insane lie is after you did all the lying to this person and to this person, moving this information and put it here and move that evidence and put it here and move this evidence and put it here, you start believing your own lie; and that is an insane lie, when you start believing your own lie. That's when someone really needs to lock you up in a rubber room, because you lost your mind; and that's what we're dealing with; and this is why it's important to know what the truth is based on the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
If something is added to it, it's not the whole. If something's taken away from it, it's not nothing but the truth. All we are dealing with is the truth. That's what we are looking for.
We need the evidence. Saying it, people, doesn't make it so. Saying it doesn't make it so.
Accusing a human being of a crime doesn't make it so. Man is accused of being humane and decent, but what they have done to me is not humane nor decent. To accuse me of a crime doesn't make it so. Accuse is far different between proving -- and that's what we are here today and for the next couple days -- to prove what was done and what was not done; but when you prove something, here we go again.
ASSISTANT PROSECUTOR JAMES WILLETT: If your honor please, at this point I hate to interrupt. The purpose of an opening statement is to tell the jury what he thinks the facts will be. He has not done that up to this point.
JUDGE LEROY F. MILLETTE JR.: I think he is speaking in an allegorical manner, and that's why I allowed him to go on; but, Mr. Muhammad, he is correct. The purpose of opening statement is to tell the jury what you think the evidence is going to be.
MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir. The evidence, if we monitor step by step and be patient and listen to it carefully, it will show that I had nothing to do with these crimes. I had nothing to do with these crimes. They know this, and that's why they are trying to impose everything at one time; and what we ask you all to do is just pay attention. Please pay attention because right now my life and my son's life is on the line, and we need for people to understand that when you say something, it's important -- in this place it's important to prove it. You needs facts. You need evidence that it actually happened. Not evidence, I think it happened. Not evidence, I assume it happened. Not evidence, I hope it happened. But evidence that it happened, and that is what separates a guess from the truth. The truth is a fact. A guess is a theory. A theory is something that we can believe as much as we want to, but it doesn't make it a fact.
Regardless of how loud it may get, regardless of how much emphasis may be put on it, it doesn't change it. It's just a theory. It's an assumption. We're looking for facts. We are looking for evidence, and the evidence will show that I had nothing to do with these crimes, that I had nothing to do with these crimes directly or indirectly, that I know anything about these crimes, that I know any times of these crimes or anything pertaining to these crimes at all.
The evidence will show that, and this is why -- I know that a couple of you all came, you said that I base my decision on the facts, and that's good, and I also noticed when the judge asked you questions, the judge would ask you questions, and some of you said, I think I can. I believe I can. I hope I can; and the judge stopped and said, You know, it's really important because this case is so important. We need to know. We need to know you can. Can you separate what you've heard, what you may have seen, what someone may have told you, to specifically on the facts that we have in this courtroom? And if they could not answer that to where it would satisfy the judge or satisfy to us, the judge dismissed them because it's important that you know what happened. Know.
We got a right to think. We have a right to assume. We have a right to speculate. We have a right to do that; but when it's concerning a human being's life, that's what separates what we think, what we assume, and what we theorize happened from what we know happened; and when people get up on the stand and when they get up and speak, that's what I would like you all to pay attention to. Find out do they know what happened? Not at the beginning. Not in the middle. Not just at the end. All the way through -- because any part -- any part of what they're saying, it's not the truth, it's a lie. All that is deceiving because for a problem -- a mathematical problem to come out to a proper answer, if you make a mistake anywhere in that problem, then the answer is not going to be correct; so it's important to get all the steps properly. Half -- halfway. I used to have a teacher that would say, "John, half is not good enough;" and I say, "I got half the problem right."
She say, "That is not good enough. You need to get all the problem right to get the right answer;" and what we are looking for in the next couple days is we need the right answer. We need to know what happened, and the evidence that they bring as he stated already, that he would hold me to the same standards that if I was another one of his opponent lawyers. The same way for him. The standard should be the same. Not just to say it happened but to prove it happened all the way through -- all the way through. I know a lot of us have an issue much about Mr. Muhammad.
Mr. Muhammad this and Mr. Muhammad that. He took away a lot of people's rights. We actually thought we had a choice. Dirty glass number one or dirty glass number two and then we were forced -- out there I'm sure you all were forced to pick, thinking you really had a choice. Dirty glass number one, dirty glass number two. That's not a choice. A real choice will be between dirty glass number one or a clean glass; and for the next couple days, the next couple of hours, it is my responsibility to set a clean glass of what really happened on those days alongside this dirty glass; and because it's the nature of a man to choose and to want to choose what is right, I don't have to tell anyone that the glass is clean. Just because you want to drink out of a clean glass, you pick it. The only reason you would drink out of a dirty glass is because you thought you had a choice between dirty glass number one and dirty glass number two. You really didn't have a choice.
That's what we want to do today and the next couple days with the evidence, that we can show everything that they said and everything that they have mentioned, how things would evolve into what really happened, because that's why we're here. That is why everybody is listening right now. There is no doubt in everyone's mind something happened. We're here today in court to find out what happened, and that's why I thank the judge for asking the jurors can you separate what you have heard out there and base your opinions solely on what you hear in court? Because a lot has been said out there, and they have brought a lot in court already what have been said out there. So I ask for from you the same thing the judge have asked of you. That you -- Will you please base your decision on what you -- what is said in the courtroom and not out there; and that way we can make sure that the truth is told, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Thank you, judge.