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Prosecutors Build Case in 'Beltway Sniper' Trial

John Allen Muhammad greeted court personnel with "Good morning, everyone," as he was escorted to the defense table Monday for a second day of questioning witnesses in his murder trial for the 2002 Washington-area sniper shootings.

Muhammad, already sentenced to death in Virginia for one of the 10 killings, is acting as his own attorney in his Maryland trial on six of the others.

He adopted an almost breezy air of familiarity Monday as he questioned some of the witnesses. He asked one about her British accent and began his questioning by saying, "We're trying to find out some facts, OK?"

When the daughter of sniper victim Premkumar Walekar, a native of India, took the stand, Muhammad declined to question her. Andrea Walekar testified that she and her family learned of her father's death on television when they saw his cab in the footage of a gas station where a man had been shot.

A witness to Walekar's shooting, Caroline Namrow, described administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation to Walekar and assuring him he would be OK, even though she knew from her years of working in a hospital emergency room that his chances of survival were slim.

Namrow said she heard "a loud bang" and then Walekar "walked toward my car. He said, 'Call an ambulance,' and he collapsed."

Muhammad questioned Namrow about exactly what she saw. Namrow had testified that she saw Walekar before the shooting and after he was shot and walked toward her.

"At any time did you see this person get up and start walking?" Muhammad asked.

Namrow responded, "no."

Walekar's family members wept throughout Namrow's testimony.

A hearing on Muhammad's renewed motion for a change of venue and a new jury was postponed Monday. Muhammad says that the jury is biased against him because most said during the selection process that they believe Muhammad is guilty. The judge allowed them to sit as jurors because they said they could put their beliefs aside and make their decision based on the evidence.

His trial for six of the October 2002 sniper killings began last week in Montgomery County, an affluent suburban area where the shooting spree began and ended. Prosecutors called witnesses to two of the murders and some police officers who saw Muhammad's blue Chevrolet Caprice near the crime scenes.

A mall security guard, Portia Burch, said she spoke with Muhammad in the parking lot the night before James "Sonny" Buchanan was shot, and she identified Muhammad in the courtroom and photos of the Caprice.

Prosecutors are working through each killing chronologically, beginning with the Oct. 2, 2002 murder of James Martin in a supermarket parking lot. Buchanan's murder, which was described by witnesses Friday, was followed by five the next day, when police and Montgomery residents first became aware someone was shooting people at random.

Muhammad, 45, has tried to show that no one actually saw him firing the shots.

On Friday, he asked witnesses to the Martin and Buchanan shootings if they saw the shooter — all said no.

Muhammad implied in his opening statement that he and accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo were merely driving around the area looking for Muhammad's three young children, who had been taken by his ex-wife.

Malvo, serving a life term in Virginia for a sniper shooting, faces trial in the fall for the same six Maryland murders. However, he may plead guilty to those crimes and testify against Muhammad.

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