VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — John Allen Muhammad’s DNA
was conclusively linked to a rifle sight found in the car believed
to have been used in last year’s sniper attacks, an FBI
expert testified yesterday.
The sight was detached from the rifle when it was found, said
the expert, Brendan Shea. He would not say with certainty that DNA
collected from the rifle itself was Muhammad’s but testified
there was a “high likelihood” that it was.
The DNA of Muhammad’s co-defendant, Lee Boyd Malvo, was
found on the rifle in several locations to the exclusion of anyone
else, Shea testified.
Malvo’s fingerprints also were found on the rifle, but the
prints were not in a position consistent with someone firing the
weapon, a fingerprint expert testified earlier yesterday.
Charles Colman of the ATF said he found prints from
Malvo’s left ring finger and palm on the rifle, but found
none of Muhammad’s prints. Malvo’s prints were on the
weapon in such a manner that he would have been holding it upside
down at the time, Colman said.
“It wasn’t any type of firing position,” he
It has long been known that only Malvo’s prints were found
on the weapon, but there had been no previous public discussion
about the position of the prints.
Prosecutors have argued it is irrelevant who actually fired the
weapon, portraying Muhammad as the “instigator and moving
spirit” behind the shootings centered in the Washington,
Defense lawyers have argued that identifying the triggerman is
crucial in determining whether Muhammad is eligible for the death
The jury also heard testimony yesterday about the contents of a
laptop computer found in Muhammad’s car when he was
Maps of six shooting scenes were marked with
skull-and-crossbones icons, said FBI computer expert John Hair. A
caption next to the symbol marking the slaying of FBI analyst Linda
Franklin included the words “Good one.”
Malvo has admitted firing the shots in many of the 16 attacks,
but Malvo’s lawyers say their client gave a false confession
to protect Muhammad.
FBI fingerprint expert Mitchell Hollars said that he found
Malvo’s fingerprints on items left behind at a Sept. 21,
2002, shooting in Montgomery, Ala., and an Oct. 19 shooting in
Ashland. He said he found Muhammad’s fingerprints only on two
items that had been in Muhammad’s car. Muhammad’s
fingerprints were also found on a map book found at the scene of
the Oct. 9 shooting of Dean Harold Meyers near Manassas.
Muhammad is on trial for that shooting.
In other testimony, a third prosecution witness said chemical
residue found in the trunk of Muhammad’s car suggests the
gunman fired from inside the compartment.
Edward Bender, a forensic chemist for the U.S. Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said nitroglycerine and
other chemical residues were “consistent with a firearm being
fired inside the trunk.”
Prosecutors began the forensic part of their case against
Muhammad yesterday after 2 1/2 weeks of presenting evidence of the
shootings and detailing the arrests of Muhammad and Malvo on Oct.
24, 2002, at a rest stop in Maryland.
They introduced evidence in shootings in Maryland, Virginia,
Alabama, Louisiana and Washington in an effort to show that
Muhammad had a role in multiple slayings and terrorized the public
— necessary conditions for the two death penalty charges
against him in Virginia.
Another file on the laptop contained text that was apparently
designed to be telephone dialogue with the police. It included the
code words “Call Me God” and the following
instructions: “We are offering you a way out. These are our
terms. You will prepare 5 million dollars and place it in this
Previous testimony has indicated that the snipers sought a $10
million payment in exchange for an end to the shooting spree. There
is no evidence that the text found in the computer was ever uttered
The file was created eight days before a note demanding $10
million was left at the scene of a shooting in Ashland, Va.