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Man Recounts Wife's Sniper Slaying

October 31, 2003|From Associated Press

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, Va., gas station on Oct. 9, 2002. But prosecutors are introducing evidence of 16 shootings, including 10 slayings, in the Washington, D.C., area to assert he is responsible for several deaths and that he terrorized the community -- conditions for the two death penalty charges against him.

Fellow sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo goes on trial next month in Franklin's death. At a July hearing, a prison guard testified that Malvo, 18, 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 Court Judge LeRoy F. Millette Jr. urged anyone else who did not want to listen to the tape to leave.

Some jurors got red-eyed as they listened and looked over at Linda Franklin's daughter, Katrina Hannum, who remained in court. Hannum, in tears, kept her head down.

Prosecutors also showed Franklin a photo of his wife taken at the crime scene.

The judge warned jurors the photo would be graphic, and gasps could be heard in the court when the photo was projected onto a screen. The right side of her face was blown away.

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