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Sniper victim prayed 'that God wouldn't let me die'

From Mike Ahlers
CNN

Seawell testifies Tuesday of being shot last October.
Seawell testifies Tuesday of being shot last October.

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Caroline Seawell told jurors in the trial of John Allen Muhammad about being hit by a sniper's bullet last October.
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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) -- Caroline Seawell described to jurors Tuesday her account of being shot by a sniper's bullet.

Seawell, one of three shooting victims to survive last year's Washington-area sniper attacks, testified Tuesday in the trial of sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad.

"I knew that I had been shot immediately," Seawell said. "I first prayed -- first said a prayer that God wouldn't let me die. And then I said I was shot."

She told jurors that she heard a sound about the same time she felt a pain in her back and front.

Published reports from the time of the shooting said the bullet pierced her lower back and exited her chest. The bullet came to rest in Seawell's Toyota minivan.

Seawell, a stay-at-home mother of two, said she remembered discussing the sniper shootings over breakfast with her husband the morning of October 4, 2002.

Hours later, she became a victim as she loaded a newly purchased scarecrow and a wreath into her minivan at a shopping center in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

After praying, she told a stranger in the parking lot that she had been shot but the man didn't believe her.

Seawell's testimony was the last from several people taken Tuesday.

Earlier, the first police officer to reach critically wounded Sarah Ramos on October 3, 2002, testified that she knew the woman had not shot herself, as previously reported, and would not survive.

"There was nothing I could do to save this lady," said Cynthia Martin, a Montgomery County, Maryland, police officer who arrived at the scene of the shooting.

Ramos was sitting on a bench outside a restaurant in Silver Spring, Maryland, last October when she was killed by a gunshot wound to the head. She was one of five people to die in Montgomery County within a 16-hour period on October 2-3, 2002. In all, 10 people were slain in the shooting spree that terrorized the Washington area for three weeks.

Martin said Tuesday that Ramos' death was initially reported as a suicide, but the officer realized the woman had been shot because "she didn't have a weapon in her hand."

Testimony by another witness Tuesday placed a car that resembled Muhammad's vehicle at the scene of the Ramos shooting.

Karen Turner, an employee at a nearby medical office, said that before the shooting she noticed a dark-colored Chevrolet Caprice parked in a shopping center lot, facing away from the Crisp & Juicy restaurant.

"It was the only car in that section of the parking lot that morning, and it caught my eye because it was an older-model car," said Turner, who described herself as a fan of older cars.

Muhammad and co-defendant Lee Boyd Malvo were arrested three weeks later in a blue Caprice sedan. Prosecutors say Malvo and Muhammad used the car 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.

Prosecutors try to link multiple shootings

After testimony that began last week linking Muhammad and Malvo to earlier killings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Montgomery, Alabama, prosecutors began methodically walking witnesses through the Washington-area shootings in chronological order Monday afternoon.

Muhammad, 42, is being tried on a murder charge for the death of Dean Meyers, 53, outside a Manassas, Virginia, service station, but prosecutors are presenting evidence linking him to numerous other killings in the spree. He has pleaded not guilty and maintains his innocence.

Muhammad in court Tuesday.
Muhammad in court Tuesday.

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.

Muhammad could face the death penalty if prosecutors show he was responsible for at least two murders in a three-year period. He also faces a charge of terrorism, which could carry the death penalty as well.

Malvo, 18, is scheduled to go on trial on similar charges next month.


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