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A sound, a feeling: Husband of sniper victim recalls unforgettable night of death

Posted on 01/15/2003 2:40:19 AM PST by kattracks

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) -- He never saw the gunman, or the car in which the killer fled. There was only a noise, and a feeling of something hitting his face.

Fighting back tears, William Franklin said he learned later the night of Oct. 14 that the sound he heard was gunfire -- and what had hit him in the face was the blood of his wife, Linda Franklin.

Speaking for the first time at a hearing Tuesday for teenage sniper suspect John Lee Malvo, Franklin said he watched helplessly as his wife lay still, her skull split open by a sniper's bullet.

"I heard a noise and felt something hit me on the side of my face," Franklin testified. He didn't know what it was at the time, but discovered later "it was her blood," he testified.

"I went to her side to see if there was anything I could do, and there wasn't," Franklin said. "She had been shot through the head. She was lying on the ground."

Franklin also testified he never saw a blue Chevrolet Caprice, the type of car Malvo and alleged sniper John Allen Muhammad were arrested in 10 days later at a Maryland rest stop.

Officer Jeffrey Miller of the Fairfax County Police Department testified the bullet that killed Linda Franklin entered the left side of her head, splitting her skull and exiting above her right eye, leaving her in a pool of blood.

Franklin's emotional account came as prosecutors tried to tie Malvo, 17, to the deadly October shooting spree.

The preliminary hearing in juvenile court, which will determine if Malvo should be tried as an adult for capital murder and face the possibility of being put to death, resumes Wednesday.

During at least part of the hearing, Malvo rested his head on the desk where he sat with his attorneys.

Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. alleged Malvo went on the shooting rampage that left 10 dead in an effort to extort more than $10 million from the government.

He said fingerprints from a rifle, ballistics evidence, notes to police and phone calls from Malvo link him to at least four of the October sniper shootings.

"All of this was an attempt to intimidate the government to pay in excess of $10 million for these defendants and this defendant in particular to stop the shooting," Horan said.

The extortion allegation is a key element of a new Virginia anti-terrorism law that allows the death penalty for killers convicted of trying to intimidate the public or coerce government policy.

Malvo and Muhammad, 42, are accused of shooting 18 people, killing 13 and wounding five in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., last year. They are being tried first in Virginia, Malvo in Fairfax County and Muhammad in nearby Prince William County.

Horan said evidence presented at the two-day hearing will link Malvo to four communications with police -- two phone calls and two notes.

Prosecutors said evidence will also link Malvo to the slaying of Dean Meyers in Prince William County.

Horan said authorities found Malvo's fingerprints on a package of cinnamon-covered raisins at the Ashland shooting Oct. 19. The package was near a tree where a note from the snipers had been tacked. That note contained the postscript, publicized worldwide by police: "Your children are not safe anywhere at any time."

Another note was left at the scene of the Oct. 22 killing of bus driver Conrad Johnson in Montgomery County, Md. It told police, "Your incompetence has cost you another life," Horan said. The note gave police a 9 a.m. deadline for delivering the money.

Horan was expected to present about 25 witnesses over two days to determine if the evidence against Malvo is sufficient to forward the case to a grand jury.

If Juvenile and Domestic Court Judge Charles Maxfield determines prosecutors have demonstrated probable cause, Malvo will face trial in adult court, where he would face the death penalty if convicted.

Even if the judge does not find probable cause, Horan will then have the option of obtaining a direct indictment from a grand jury.

Muhammad, who also faces the death penalty if convicted of capital murder in the gas station slaying of Meyers, is scheduled to go on trial in October in neighboring Prince William County.

Malvo is facing two counts of capital murder related to Franklin's slaying under two separate Virginia laws.

One count allows the death penalty when a person commits more than one murder in a three-year period. That means prosecutors must present evidence of two different shootings at the hearing.

A second count allows the death penalty under Virginia's new anti-terrorism statute. According to that provision, prosecutors would not have to prove multiple murders, nor would they even have to show Malvo was the triggerman in the Oct. 14 shooting.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: fairfax; fairfaxco

1 posted on 01/15/2003 2:40:19 AM PST by kattracks
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To: kattracks
At 17 he was a serial murderer and the accomplice to another. There is no doubt of his guilt. If he's old enough to go on a killing spree, he's old enough to be tried as an adult. Show him all the mercy he showed his victims.
2 posted on 01/15/2003 4:22:41 AM PST by xJones
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To: kattracks
Dear God--first William Franklin has to witness the brutal murder of his wife and now he has to recount it in court, and probably will have to any number of times in Malvo and Mohammed's hearings and trials. May God give him strength.
3 posted on 01/15/2003 5:13:33 AM PST by Catspaw
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To: kattracks
The extortion allegation is a key element of a new Virginia anti-terrorism law that allows the death penalty for killers convicted of trying to intimidate the public or coerce government policy.

Apparently, just driving around shooting innocent people in the head isn't enough.

4 posted on 01/15/2003 5:19:05 AM PST by PBRSTREETGANG
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5 posted on 01/15/2003 5:44:28 AM PST by Mo1 (Join the DC Chapter at the Patriots Rally III on 1/18/03)
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