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Sniper victim's family recalls horror

By Associated Press
Published October 31, 2003

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. "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, an FBI intelligence operations specialist.

Muhammad, 42, is on trial in the shooting of Dean Harold Meyers at a Manassas-area gas station on Oct. 9, 2002. But prosecutors are introducing evidence of 16 shootings, including 10 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 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 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.

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 out of a 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.

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