VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – As William Franklin loaded a shelf into his car outside a Home Depot, his wife, Linda, stood by the open trunk to make sure their shopping cart did not roll away.
Then, he heard a loud noise he thought was wood smacking concrete and felt something hit the side of his face.
"I didn't know it at the time," Franklin testified Thursday in the trial of sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad (search). "Afterward, I found out it was her blood."
Seeing his wife on the ground, Franklin ran to her side and called 911, he said.
Franklin sighed a few times but otherwise was calm as he testified about the Oct. 14, 2002, shooting death of 47-year-old Linda Franklin (search), an FBI intelligence operations specialist.
Muhammad, 42, is on trial in the shooting of Dean Harold Meyers (search) at a Manassas-area gas station on Oct. 9, 2002. But prosecutors are introducing evidence of 16 shootings, including eight slayings in the Washington, D.C., area, to show he is responsible for multiple deaths and terrorized the community -- necessary conditions for the two death penalty charges against him.
Fellow sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo (search) goes on trial next month in Linda Franklin's death. At a July pretrial hearing, a prison guard testified the 18-year-old told him he shot Franklin because "she was just lazy, standing still."
William Franklin was so traumatized when he called 911 that his voice became high-pitched.
"My wife has been shot," the former Marine told the dispatcher rapidly, moaning. "She was shot in the head."
Franklin left the courtroom before the tape of the call was played. Circuit Judge LeRoy F. Millette Jr. also urged anyone else who did not want to listen to the tape -- the most disturbing 911 call played so far during the three-week trial -- to leave.
Some jurors got red-eyed as they listened to the tape and looked over at Linda Franklin's daughter, Katrina Hannum, who remained in the courtroom after testifying earlier. Hannum, in tears, kept her head down.
Despite objections by the defense, prosecutors also showed Franklin a close-up photo of his wife taken at the crime scene.
The judge warned jurors the photo would be particularly graphic, and gasps could be heard in the courtroom when the photo was projected onto a large screen in the courtroom. The right side of her face was blown away.
Jurors also were shown graphic autopsy photos during a medical examiner's testimony. One showed a star-like pattern where the bullet split open Franklin's skull, forcing out part of the brain.
Hannum lowered her head when the photos were displayed of her mother, whom she had described in earlier testimony as "an amazing woman who touched anyone she came into contact with."
"All her life, my mom was a survivor," a tearful Hannum testified. She said her mother put herself through college while raising two children and became a teacher for the Department of Defense, traveling around the world, before taking the FBI job, which she loved.
Hannum, who was 5 months pregnant at the time of her mother's death, said "all I could do was scream" when her stepfather William Franklin called to tell her about the shooting.
About 25 minutes after Franklin was shot, an off-duty Fairfax County police officer said she saw Malvo driving a dark blue Chevrolet Caprice on Interstate 66, less than 10 miles from the scene of the crime.
Traffic was backed up because police put up roadblocks after the shooting, and Officer Marta Goodwin testified that she exchanged a glance with Malvo, who was driving. She said did not see anyone else in the car.
Before court adjourned for the day Thursday, jurors also heard testimony from the survivor of another attack, on Oct. 19, 2002.
A bullet pierced Jeffrey Hopper's abdomen as he and his wife walked hand-in-hand out of a Ponderosa restaurant in Ashland, Va., about 15 miles north of Richmond. They had stopped there for dinner after visiting family in Pennsylvania and were driving home to Melbourne, Fla.
Hopper said he heard an "all-encompassing" explosion, took a step, brought his hand up to his abdomen, turned to his wife and told her, "I think I've been shot."
As he waited for an ambulance to arrive, Hopper said he told his wife that he loved her. "Then we prayed together," he said.
Earlier Thursday, a crime scene investigator testified that he found a tarot card signifying death in a field about 100 yards from the spot where the only child was shot in the sniper spree.
Cpl. Charles Nelson of Prince George's County, Md., said the card was found about 25 feet from a bullet casing and a ball point pen barrel that, court records indicate, had Muhammad's DNA on it.
The card had a handwritten message that said, "For you Mr. police call me God. Do not release this to the press."
The message, however, was leaked to the media. Charles Moose (search), the former Montgomery County, Md., police chief who led the sniper investigation, wrote in his recently published book that the leak may have prolonged the spree by cutting off fragile communications with the sniper.