VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Jurors in the trial of John Allen Muhammad (search) said his lack of emotion, combined with the extreme violence of the sniper attacks, convinced them he deserved to die.
Robert Elliott said he watched Muhammad sit stoically during the six-week trial, even during grueling testimony from victims.
"I looked for something in him that might have shown remorse," Elliott said Monday after he and 11 other jurors recommended Muhammad be executed. "I never saw it the whole time."
The jury deliberated for a little moreiday, the panel had appeared far apart -- asking Judge LeRoy Millette Jr. (search) what would happen if they couldn't reach a unanimous decision on Muhammad's fate. But the weekend appeared to give jurors a clearer mind.
Dennis Bowman said videotapes shown by the defense of Muhammad playing with his children made him think Friday that Muhammad should be spared the death penalty. But after a sleepless Sunday night, he changed his mind.
"The man doesn't care about anything but himself," he said.
Jury foreman Jerry Haggerty added that Muhammad came across as arrogant when he temporarily acted as his own lawyer at the start of his trial. He was convicted Nov. 17 of two capital murder charges for killing Dean Harold Meyers (search) Oct. 9, 2002.
Marion Lewis, whose daughter Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera was slain during last year's sniper spree, expressed relief at the jury's decision Monday, but said it was tempered by a lingering sense of loss.
"I don't believe there ever can be any total closure for something like this, even if I would be allowed to pull the switch, or plunge the plungers or spring the trap myself," Lewis said from his home in Mountain Home, Idaho.
Others who lost relatives or survived the shootings were among the more than 130 witnesses who testified during the trial.
The case took its toll on the jury, who included a bartender, a retired Navy pilot and a registered nurse. The panel was not sequestered, but jurors could not discuss the case with their families or read about the trial. They were also barred from reading news about the ongoing trial of Muhammad's alleged accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, in nearby Chesapeake.
Haggerty said he hadn't gotten a full night's sleep throughout the trial and "probably won't for a long time." Heather Best-Teague said her son cut her horoscope out of the paper each day so she wouldn't see news accounts. She felt isolated from her family and often wept when she went home at night.
To sentence Muhammad to death, jurors had to find that his crimes were "wantonly vile" or that he posed a future risk if he was allowed to live the rest of his life in prison.
Bowman said he worried Muhammad could injure someone else, citing a sharpened plastic spoon found in his cell at the Prince William Detention Center. Prosecutors said the spoon, combined with a purported escape attempt, made him a future risk.
"If he is locked up in the deepest hole, sooner or later he is going to fabricate something and find a way to hurt someone else," Bowman said.
Still, some jurors said they were moved by home videos showing Muhammad giggling as his toddler daughter tried to walk and bathing his young son.
Best-Teague trembled as she said the tapes made her think of her own 12-year-old son. The hardest part of her decision, she said, was "the fact that he has children. I know what it would be like to not ever see mine again."
Defense attorney Peter Greenspun said he respected the decision but that jurors should not have read too much into Muhammad's courtroom demeanor.
"Mr. Muhammad was very attentive and appropriate during the trial," he said.