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Media shown car allegedly used in sniper shootings

Prosecutors say the sniper killers lay in the back of their 1990 Chevy Caprice and shot through the hole above the license plate.
Prosecutors say the sniper killers lay in the back of their 1990 Chevy Caprice and shot through the hole above the license plate.

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Lee Boyd Malvo
John Allen Muhammad

CHESAPEAKE, Virginia (CNN) -- For the first time since it was seized, officials Tuesday allowed the media to photograph the car that authorities say served as a sniper platform during the October 2002 Washington, D.C.-area killing spree.

CNN and other news organizations petitioned Judge Jane Marum Roush to allow access to the 1990 Chevrolet Caprice, which had been shown to jurors in the trials of John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo.

Muhammad's trial ended Monday when a Virginia Beach jury recommended the death penalty, a decision that Judge LeRoy F. Millette Jr. is likely to follow at the formal sentencing in February. (Full story)

Malvo's trial is on holiday recess following testimony Tuesday and will resume next Monday in Chesapeake, Virginia. (Latest developments)

Muhammad and Malvo were arrested on October 24, 2002 while sitting inside the Caprice at a Maryland rest stop.

When the car was seized during the arrest, a television news camera in a helicopter photographed it as it was being pushed into a garage for processing.

Since then, law enforcement officials have kept the car from view, covering it with tarps while transporting it to courthouses.

Investigators say the car was modified to turn it into a "killing machine." The rear seat of the car was hinged at the top, allowing a person to crawl into the trunk, and a small part of the trunk above the rear license plate was sawed out, possibly providing space for a rifle barrel. (Full story)

In addition, the inside of the trunk lid was partially spray-painted to create a light trap, making it more difficult to detect when the lid was cracked open. Investigators say the shooters partially opened the trunk lid before firing the shots.

At the Muhammad trial, a forensic expert told of various materials found inside the car after it had been confiscated. Included were a high-powered rifle, a laptop computer and books on history, politics and philosophy.

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