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Sniper jury hears about West Coast slaying


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CNN's Patty Davis reports that jurors in sniper suspect Lee Malvo's trial heard his voice on a police tape describing some of the shootings.
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CNN's Jeanne Meserve on Virginia prosecutors making their case for the death penalty for convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad.
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CNN's Daryn Kagan on the jury finding Muhammad guilty of capital murder and three other charges related to last year's sniper shooting spree.
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VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia (CNN) -- Prosecutors, hoping to persuade a jury to sentence convicted Washington-area sniper John Allen Muhammad to death, Tuesday tried to link him to the killing of a Washington state woman.

Muhammad's ex-wife also is expected to be among the witnesses in the penalty phase of the trial, which began after his conviction Monday on all four counts against him. Prosecutors are now trying to convince the same jury that Muhammad would be a continuing danger to society if his life is spared.

Judge LeRoy Millette told jurors that testimony may conclude by Thursday morning.

Muhammad, 42, was convicted Monday of capital murder, murder committed during an act of terrorism, conspiracy, and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in the October 9, 2002, killing of Dean Harold Meyers outside a Manassas, Virginia, gas station.

"Basically, the world lost a lot of good people," Larry Meyers Jr., the victim's nephew, told CNN. "There were exceptionally good people they took. If the death penalty is an option, it certainly would fit in this instance."

The October 2002 killings in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia left 10 people dead and three wounded. Prosecutors have said Muhammad and co-defendant Lee Boyd Malvo acted as a team in the attacks, but they have not accused Muhammad of firing any of the fatal shots.

Malvo, 18, is on trial in nearby Chesapeake for another of the sniper killings, the October 14, 2002, slaying of Linda Franklin outside a Fairfax, Virginia, Home Depot.

In a statement to police, played for jurors Tuesday, Malvo said he was "basically" the triggerman. Asked whether it mattered to Malvo if some of the victims survived, the youth's response was, "I intended to kill them all."

Prosecutors in Muhammad's trial also are trying to link Muhammad to a shooting at a Tacoma, Wash., synagogue and a March escape attempt from a jail in Prince William County, Virginia.

Rabbi Mark Glickman of Temple Beth El said he was preparing to take the Torah out the ark that holds it when he noticed plaster dust scattered around, and a hole in the back wall of the ark.

"I thought we had a mouse in the building actually and wondered how it got so high up on the wall," he testified. But several days later, he said, a student pointed out a hole in the ark's door, and Glickman found a series of holes leading to the rear of the building.

Investigators later determined that two shots had been fired into the building and recovered the slugs, which had burrowed six inches deep into wood. Evan Thompson, a Washington state firearm and tool mark examiner, said the weapons were fired from a .44-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun.

In opening statements, prosecutors said they would demonstrate that Muhammad and Malvo had access to the gun at the time of the shooting.

And a friend of Muhammad, Earl Lee Dancy Jr., testified that Muhammad had made anti-Semitic statements and that Dancy illegally purchased a rifle for Muhammad that was found aimed at a Tacoma apartment in August 2002.

Defense attorney Jonathan Shapiro called Dancy a "liar" under cross-examination, saying he repeatedly lied to authorities on the gun purchase. And he questioned whether Dancy had a plea agreement with prosecutors to avoid being charged with firearms violations.

"I haven't seen the paperwork," Dancy said in response.

Other testimony focused on what prosecutors called an attempt by Muhammad to escape from the Prince William County jail in March.

One of Muhammad's jailers, Joshua Murphy, testified that Muhammad had closed the door to his cell after returning a food tray, giving guards the impression that he had returned to his cell. But an inmate notified guards that Muhammad had remained in a common area of the jail, crouched against a wall in a place where he could not be seen from the room's windows.

The inmate, Russell Smith, is now serving a 48-year prison term for rape and sexual assault in a Virginia penitentiary. He is expected to testify in Muhammad's trial late Tuesday or Wednesday.

Tuesday's first witness was 15-year-old Tamara Nichols, who described finding the body of her cousin, Keenya Cook, on February 16, 2002 -- six months before the sniper killings began in the Washington area.

"I saw blood around her head. It wasn't all over the place. It was like a small, dark puddle," she said. Tamara said she went to get her mother, telling her "Something is wrong with Keenya."

Investigators in Tacoma, where the killing took place, believe the 21-year-old Cook was killed as a result of a dispute between Muhammad, a former Tacoma resident, and her aunt, Isa Nichols.

Nichols was a business consultant hired by Muhammad's ex-wife, Mildred, to keep the books for the Muhammad's auto repair business. When the couple's marriage fractured, Nichols referred Mildred Muhammad -- who later left town with the couple's children -- to a shelter. Prosecutors say Muhammad wanted revenge.

CNN producers Mike M. Ahlers and Laura Bernardini contributed to this report.


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