Victims, Relatives to Witness Sniper Execution

Associated Press + More

By DENA POTTER


Associated Press Writer Some ache for revenge, others simply for justice. There is frustration, too, and defiance.

For those wounded by the D.C. snipers and for the relatives of those killed, the emotions leading up to the execution of the mastermind behind the 2002 attacks vary as widely as those who found themselves in the cross hairs.

John Allen Muhammad, 48, is set to die by injection in a Virginia prison Nov. 10, seven years after he and his teenage accomplice terrorized the area in and around the nation's capital for three weeks.

Some family members can't wait to see Muhammad take his final breath. Others plan to make the trip to Virginia but never step foot on prison grounds.

And there are those who plan to spend the night at home with their families, satisfied that Muhammad is paying for what he's done but indifferent as to how it will happen.

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For Nelson M. Rivera and Marion Lewis, watching Muhammad's execution will be the closest they will ever come to revenge.

"I feel like it's going to be the last chapter of this book and I want to see what his expression on his face is. And I want to see if he says anything," the 38-year-old Rivera said. "I want to see his face and see how he likes that—confronting his death."

Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera, who was Rivera's wife and Lewis' daughter, was killed as she vacuumed her van at a Kensington, Md., gas station.

Rivera, a Honduran immigrant who recently became a U.S. citizen, has remarried and had two more children since Lori was killed, leaving behind a 2-year-old daughter, Jocelin. He now works as a public-schools groundskeeper in the suburbs of Sacramento, Calif.

Still, "there is not one day I don't remember what happened and I don't remember my wife. This is going to be with me the rest of my life," Rivera said.

Lewis, 57, a laid-off construction worker, said he would like to tell Muhammad how losing his 25-year-old daughter devastated their family.

"For the hurt, the pain that he's caused my family, I'd like to be his executioner, period," Lewis said.

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Robert Meyers takes some solace in knowing that Muhammad's execution is out of his hands.

He and his wife, Lori, plan to be in the witness booth, but not out of any bloodthirsty lust to watch his brother's killer meet his maker. Rather, he considers it justice being served, a sentence being carried out.

"The reason why this life is going to be taken has everything to do with choices that he made and the process that those choices took him through," said Meyers, 56, of Perkiomenville, Pa.

Executions in Virginia, home of the nation's second-busiest death chamber, usually are intimate affairs observed by a handful of lawyers, prison officials, the mandated six citizen witnesses, a few reporters and family members.

But the sheer number of victims—10 killed and three injured in and around the nation's capital alone—has the state scrambling to accommodate all the people entitled to watch. Corrections officials are tightlipped about the arrangements, though relatives say each victim's family was offered two spots in the roughly 10-by-10 witness booth.

Meyers said he owed it to his brother, Dean Harold Meyers, to be there and that he also wanted to be there for other victims' families.

Dean Meyers, 53, a Vietnam vet and civil engineer, was the youngest of four brothers. He was shot in the head while filling up at a Manassas, Va., gas station. Muhammad's teenage accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, later bragged to police, laughing that Dean Meyers "was hit good. Dead immediately."

It was Meyers' murder that sent Muhammad to death row.

"We're expecting justice being done, but not from a vengeful standpoint," Robert Meyers said. "It is more about the payment of his debt to society, because that was decided by others."

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Charles Moore believes Muhammad deserves to die, and he's frustrated that Malvo will not be on a gurney beside him.

"The only thing that would give me closure would be if I knew that Lee Boyd Malvo was being punished properly," said Moore, 80, of Gainesville, Fla.