VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Sniper shooting survivor Paul LaRuffa took the stand Tuesday in the trial of John Allen Muhammad (search) to tell about the September 2002 attack that left him with bullet wounds in the chest and arm.
LaRuffa was one of the few survivors in the Beltway sniper shooting spree that gripped the Washington, D.C., area last fall.
Holding back tears, LaRuffa described in detail what happened after he closed his pizzeria and got into his car on Sept. 5.
"I saw a figure to my left. I saw a flash of light," he testified on the second day of the trial. "The window broke. I heard shots. I was being shot. I said I wasn't going to die. I said, 'I'm not dying in this parking lot in Clinton, Maryland."'
In addition to the chest and arm injuries, a bullet fragment lodged right next to LaRuffa's spinal cord.
The victim said he realized shortly after he was shot that he was bleeding from both the chest and the back. He was robbed of about $3,600 and a laptop computer that was found with Muhammad when he was arrested.
LaRuffa could not identify the shooter.
But because Muhammad, 42, is defending himself at his trial, LaRuffa had to undergo cross-examination by the man suspected of gunning him down. Muhammad asked the victim only a few quick questions about whether he had seen the person who shot him.
Earlier Tuesday, a police officer who interviewed Muhammad just 30 minutes after another of last year's fatal shootings said he believed the story the accused sniper told him and let him go.
Prince William County, Va., police officer Steven Bailey testified Tuesday that Muhammad was "very polite and very courteous," and he let him go after some brief questioning so Bailey could deal with the mayhem that had ensued after the Oct. 9, 2002, shooting.
Bailey testified that he spoke with the defendant as he drove his Chevy Caprice out of a restaurant parking lot from which police believe the snipers fired the shot that killed Dean Harold Meyers, the seventh victim in the three-week shooting spree last October that left 10 people dead in the Washington, D.C., area.
Bailey said Muhammad told him that police had directed him into the parking lot as they secured the crime scene. Only later that night did Bailey find out that was untrue.
Bailey told Muhammad on cross-examination that he "didn't catch on," but said he wished he had. The officer interviewed every driver leaving the parking lot, preventing people from leaving who were scared to be at the scene, while the focus was on finding a white van.
Muhammad asked Bailey, "Did you ever see me with a weapon?" and Bailey responded "No." Muhammad has asked similar questions of many witnesses in the case.
Bailey also said in court that he found a Baltimore map book in the restaurant parking lot, which was later determined to have Muhammad's fingerprints on it.
The map book is one of the few pieces of physical evidence linking Muhammad to the Manassas crime scene.
Also Tuesday, the prosecution objected to the way in which Muhammad was representing himself at trial, saying he was getting too much help from his standby lawyers.
The complaints were about the extensive consulting Muhammad was doing with standby counsel. Circuit Judge LeRoy F. Millette Jr. (search) seemed to side with the prosecution, telling Muhammad that he could either be represented by counsel or represent himself.
"That's not what's happening here," Millette said. "It seems to me that you are acting as co-counsel with the three of them, but you're the one doing the talking."
The judge decided to require more distance between where Muhammad and the standby attorneys sat in court.
Earlier Tuesday, Muhammad withdrew a request that might have allowed him to introduce mental health evidence at his trial.
"I've changed my mind on that," Muhammad told the judge at the beginning of the second day of testimony.
Muhammad has been barred from presenting any mental health evidence because he refused to meet with prosecutors' mental health expert. On Monday, he had asked Millette to reconsider that ruling.
'I Had Nothing to Do With These Crimes'
Muhammad's decision to defend himself against capital murder charges in last year's Washington-area sniper attacks surprised legal experts and outraged many because of the possibility that he could cross-examine shooting survivors, victims' family members and his alleged accomplice.
"It's revolting to me to have him walking around in a suit without handcuffs, handling parts of firearms," Larry Meyers Jr., nephew of victim Dean Harold Meyers, told Fox News on Tuesday. "It's hard to control your emotions and keep your values intact."
Meyers Jr. said his family was relieved that Muhammad declined to cross-examine his father, Larry Meyers, the brother of the victim.
"My father wouldn't have guessed in his wildest dreams that he would have had to have a conversation with his brother's killer," Meyers Jr. said on Fox. "Luckily he didn't."
In a rambling but adamant 20-minute opening statement Monday, Muhammad, wearing a suit and tie, told the jury the evidence "will all show I had nothing to do with these crimes."
He asked jurors to pay close attention to the facts because "my life and my son's life is on the line," a reference to 18-year-old Lee Boyd Malvo (search), who is to go on trial next month in the shootings. The two are not related, but have referred to each other as father and son.
Judge Millette granted Muhammad's request to represent himself after directly questioning Muhammad during a bench conference.
It was not clear why Muhammad decided to fire his court-appointed lawyers, who declined to comment and are serving as standby counsel and would assist Muhammad if he asks.
Fox News' Catherine Herridge, Shepard Smith and The Associated Press contributed to this report.