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Sniper John Allen Muhammad executed

By Jeanne Meserve and Mike M. Ahlers, CNN
John Allen Muhammad, 48, was executed for the D.C. sniper attacks in 2002 that left the Washington area gripped in fear.
John Allen Muhammad, 48, was executed for the D.C. sniper attacks in 2002 that left the Washington area gripped in fear.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Officials say John Allen Muhammad had no final words before his execution
  • Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine said he found "no compelling reason" for clemency
  • Muhammad, 48, said he was innocent before execution; he's declared dead at 9:11 p.m. ET
  • Prosecutor: "He died very peacefully, much more than most of his victims"

"Larry King Live" has live coverage of John Allen Muhammad's execution.

Jarratt, Virginia (CNN) -- Washington-area sniper John Allen Muhammad was executed Tuesday by lethal injection, a Virginia prisons spokesman said.

The mastermind behind the Washington-area sniper attacks of 2002 that terrorized the nation's capital was declared dead at 9:11 p.m. ET, said Larry Traylor, director of communications for the Virginia Department of Corrections.

"There were no complications; Mr. Mohammad was asked if he wished to make a last statement," Traylor told reporters outside the the Greenville Correctional Center. "He did not acknowledge this or make a last statement whatsoever."

In fact, Mohammad, 48, said nothing from the time he entered the death chamber accompanied by guards at 8:58 p.m., Traylor said.

"After he was placed on the gurney and strapped down, he was very emotionless," Traylor said.

A curtain was drawn and a volunteer team of executioners inserted two catheters -- one in each arm -- through which the drugs that caused his death were to flow, Traylor said.

At 9:06 p.m., when the curtain was drawn back, "They asked him right after that, 'Mr. Muhammad, do you have any last words?' " recalled Jon Burkett, a reporter for WTVR who witnessed the execution from the second row of the gallery.

"He didn't say anything. At 9:07 you could see him twitch a lot. You could see him blinking a lot. You could see his breathing increase." After about seven deep breaths, at 9:08 p.m., he lay motionless, Burkett said.

Three minutes later, a physician working for the Department of Corrections pronounced him dead.

In a statement read on behalf of the lawyers for and family of Muhammad, defense lawyer Jon Sheldon said, "We deeply sympathize with the families and loved ones who have to relive the pain and loss of those terrible days; our sympathies also extend to the children of John Muhammad who, with humility and self-consciousness, today lost a father and a member of their family.

"To all those families and the countless citizens across the country who bore witness and continue to do so to those tragic events, we renew our condolences and we offer our prayers for a better future."

Among the witnesses were about a dozen members of the prosecution task force.

Video: Reporter's account of execution
Video: Muhammad family statement
Video: How does lethal injection work?
Video: Sniper's letters read
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"He died very peacefully, much more than most of his victims," said Paul Ebert, the Virginia prosecutor who won the death penalty conviction. "I felt a sense of closure, and I hope that they did, too."

Bob Meyers, whose 53-year-old brother Dean was shot dead while pumping gas in Virginia, called Tuesday's spectacle "surreal."

"Watching the life be sapped out of somebody intentionally was very different and an experience I'd never had," he told CNN's "Larry King Live."

"I'd watched my mother die of natural causes, but that was very different."

He said he may have attained some closure, "but I would say that pretty much was overcome just by the sadness that the whole situation generates in my heart. That he would get to the place where he did what he did, and that it had to come to this."

Meyers said he has forgiven Muhammad for two reasons: "One is that God calls for me to do that in the Bible, and the second thing is related to that. If I don't, it rots me from the inside out. It doesn't really hurt John Muhammad or anybody that I have bitterness against."

The execution came hours after Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine denied a last-minute clemency request Tuesday for Muhammad.

Kaine's announcement came a day after the Supreme Court declined to intervene in the case.

During three weeks in October 2002, Muhammad and accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo, then 17, killed 10 people and wounded three, while taunting police with written messages and phoned-in threats and demands.

During two trials and in years of appeals, Muhammad had professed his innocence. One of his trials included testimony from Malvo, whose youth excluded him from consideration for the death penalty

Muhammad's attorney had argued his client was not given sufficient time to file his final appeal, but said Tuesday -- after the high court and the governor declined his request for a stay -- that he would make no further efforts to delay the matter.

In a written statement issued earlier Tuesday, lawyer Sheldon accused Virginia of racing to "execute a severely mentally ill man who also suffered from Gulf War Syndrome the day before Veterans Day."

Muhammad met Tuesday with J. Wyndal Gordon, his former stand-by attorney in his Maryland trial, in which he represented himself.

"His attitude was strong, it was sturdy," Gordon told reporters. "Mr. Mohammad maintains his innocence in this case, and he always has. He is not remorseful, although he does extend his condolences to the families. What these families went through is tragic in every level. Given the injustices in this case, what Mr. Mohammad went through is equally as tragic."

Gordon said he does not consider Mohammad to be insane. "However," he added, "I am not a psychiatrist or a psychologist."

The lawyer said Muhammad's last meal was "chicken and red sauce, and he had some cakes."

Muhammad, who opted not to select a spiritual adviser, met during the afternoon with his immediate family and lawyers, said Traylor.

Muhammad leaves four children and two ex-wives, both of whom appeared Monday on CNN's "Larry King Live."

Muhammad's first wife, Carol Williams, showed a letter in which he asked her to visit him on his execution day. "Carol, I miss my family for the past eight years," he wrote, referring to the time he has been incarcerated. "I don't want to be missed the day that these devils murder my innocent black ass."

Asked about his father, Lindbergh Williams said his feelings about the death penalty had not softened with the approach of the execution. "If you commit a crime, you can pay the time," he said.

Asked whether he believes his father regrets what he did, the younger Williams said, "Yes, I really do."

Mildred Muhammad, the sniper's second ex-wife and the mother of three of his children, told CNN on Monday that she last saw him in 2001 at a custody hearing and had not sought to visit him in prison.

"I had emotionally detached from John when I asked him for a divorce," she told CNN. "And my emotions were severed when he said that you have become my enemy and as my enemy, I will kill you."

She has asserted that she was her ex-husband's target, and she blamed the first Gulf War for changing his personality.

"He went from someone who was always happy, that knew what direction he was going in, and was focused, to a person that was totally confused, depressed all the time, and didn't know how to do or get to where he wanted to be."

She said he never received counseling after his return to the United States.

But lawyer Gordon disputed her account, saying that Muhammad "was absolutely not affected by his time in the Gulf War. We did discuss that."

CNN Supreme Court producer Bill Mears contributed to this report.

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