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Witness recounts death of sniper shooting victim

From Mike Ahlers
CNN

Margaret Walekar, wife of sniper victim Premkumar A. Walekar, is helped out of court Monday by her son Andrew.
Margaret Walekar, wife of sniper victim Premkumar A. Walekar, is helped out of court Monday by her son Andrew.

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CNN's Jeanne Meserve reports the widow of a sniper victim wept in court as a physician described the man's death.
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Prosecutors plan to present evidence tying John Allen Muhammad to the Washington-area sniper killings.
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VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia (CNN) -- The widow of a victim of last year's sniper attacks in the Washington, D.C., area wept in court Monday as a physician described the killing of her cab driver husband at a gas pump in the trial of John Allen Muhammad.

Pediatrician Caroline Namrow told jurors she had stopped to refuel her minivan at a service station in Aspen Hill, Maryland, on October 3, 2002, when she heard a loud noise. When she looked up, Premkumar Walekar -- a taxi driver at who had been refueling his cab at a nearby pump -- was staggering toward her with "a look of shock, surprise, a very wide-eyed look on his face," she said.

Walekar told her, "Call an ambulance," before leaning against her van and collapsing, Namrow said.

Walekar was the third shooting death attributed to the Washington, D.C.-area sniper attacks, which eventually claimed 10 lives. Another three people were wounded, but survived.

A photo of the crime scene showed a smear of blood on Namrow's Ford Winstar and a large pool of blood on the ground between two rows of gas pumps. Namrow said she knelt down next to Walekar and felt for a pulse.

"With my hand on his forehead, I said, 'You're going to be all right,' and I started rescue breathing," she said.

"Do you believe what you told him?" a prosecutor asked.

"No," she said.

Walekar's widow, Margaret, was led out of the courtroom by her son Andrew after being overcome with emotion from Namrow's testimony.

Muhammad, 42, is on trial for only one of the killings attributed to the sniper attacks, the October 9, 2002, shooting of Dean Harold Meyers at a gas station in Manassas, Virginia, but prosecutors are presenting evidence from 16 shootings, including one in Louisiana, that they believe were committed by Muhammad and Malvo.

Prosecutors must prove multiple killings to get a conviction on one of the two death-penalty charges against Muhammad.

Early testimony in the trial, now in its second week, sought to link Muhammad and co-defendant Lee Boyd Malvo to killings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Montgomery, Alabama, in the fall of last year that preceded the sniper shootings around the nation's capital.

Witness identifies teenage co-defendant

Malvo, 18, is scheduled to go on trial on similar charges next month. In Monday morning testimony, two women put him at the scene of the September 23, 2002, killing of Hong Ballenger outside a beauty supply company in Baton Rouge.

Tina Leonard, 36, said she was returning an item to a nearby store when she heard a loud sound, which she believed to be a tire exploding or a gunshot. She looked across the street and saw Malvo standing over a person next to a car.

"I saw him take her purse," Leonard said.

Tina Leonard gestures in court Monday in the trial of John Allen Muhammad.
Tina Leonard gestures in court Monday in the trial of John Allen Muhammad.

She said Malvo -- whom she identified from a photograph in the courtroom -- fled across a field after making eye contact with her.

And Ingrid Shaw testified that she saw a dark blue car pick up Malvo as he ran from the scene. Shaw said she did not get a good look at the car's driver, but identified a photograph of Muhammad's Chevrolet Caprice as the vehicle involved in the getaway.

Prosecutors say Malvo and Muhammad used the blue Caprice, in which they were captured, as a platform to carry out the killings, with one suspect firing from the trunk and the second stationed behind the wheel to make a quick escape.

Muhammad cousin concerned by Malvo's presence

Muhammad's cousin, Charlene Anderson, said Muhammad showed her a military-style rifle that he kept in a padlocked duffel bag during a visit to her home in Baton Rouge in the summer of 2002. Muhammad arrived unannounced, claiming to be part of an undercover team searching for 500 pounds of plastic explosive that was missing from the military.

John Allen Muhammad
John Allen Muhammad

Anderson, a police officer at Southern University, said Muhammad asked her if she knew where he could get ammunition. Anderson said she didn't know.

Anderson said Muhammad was traveling with Malvo, whom he first described as his son, though he later changed his story. He referred to Malvo as a "highly trained" young man, she said.

Anderson said she was worried about Malvo staying in the same house as her daughters, so she invented a story to get Muhammad and Malvo to leave.

Muhammad's trial began last week with the defendant attempting to represent himself before agreeing Wednesday to allow Greenspun and co-counsel Jonathan Shapiro to resume their defense.

Prosecutors are not presenting evidence about the first two sniper shootings, which resulted in the deaths of James D. Martin and James "Sonny" Buchanan, because the bullets in those cases were too badly damaged to be matched to a particular weapon.


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