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Sniper tries to put witnesses on defensive

Convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad, representing himself in his second trial stemming from the October 2002 Washington-area shootings, questioned witnesses Friday on the point that no one actually saw the gunman.

Prosecutors began their case by asking witnesses to describe the loud, echoing bang of a shot and the collapse of the sniper's first victim.

Muhammad asked if any of the witnesses saw the person who fired the shot.

Kimberly Sadelson, who had been grocery shopping in Wheaton, described hearing "a loud bang" and turning to see James Martin fall down. She said she called 911 and saw Martin lying on the ground.

"He wasn't moving," she said.

Muhammad asked Sadelson whether she had seen who had fired the shot and asked whether she had seen Martin before he was shot. She answered "no" to both questions.

Eber Albanez, who also was outside the grocery store at the time of the shooting, said the shot sounded "quite close." He said he saw Martin grab at his chest and say "please help me" as he fell.

Muhammad asked Albanez if his attention had been focused on putting items in the trunk of his car in the parking lot and if Albanez had seen Martin get shot. Albanez said he did not see Martin get shot.

Muhammad is on trial for the six slayings in Montgomery County, where the shooting rampage that killed 10 people and wounded three began and ended. He has been sentenced to death for a Virginia killing.

Muhammad has renewed his bid to have the jury dismissed, saying they would not be fair. He cited the three-day questioning of potential jurors in which most said they already believed he was guilty. And he referred to courtroom outbursts, including one dismissed potential juror who told him he is "a filthy murderer."