John Allen Muhammad, the mastermind behind the sniper attacks that left 10 dead, was executed Tuesday night as relatives of the victims watched, reliving the killing spree that terrorized the Washington metro area for three weeks in October 2002.
DEADLY CONNECTION: Click here to read from our historical archives about John Muhammad's connection to Bellingham.
He looked calm and stoic, but was twitching and blinking as the injections began, defiant to the end, refusing to utter any final words. Victims' families sat behind glass while watching the execution, separated from the rest of the 27 witnesses.
"He died very peacefully, much more than most of his victims," said Prince William County prosecutor Paul Ebert, who witnessed Muhammad die by injection at 9:11 p.m. at Greensville Correctional Center, south of Richmond. Muhammad, dressed in a blue shirt, jeans and flip-flops, had no final statement.
Muhammad was executed for killing Dean Harold Meyers, who was shot in the head at a Manassas gas station during the three-week spree across Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
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Nelson Rivera, whose wife, Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera, was gunned down as she vacuumed her van at a Maryland gas station said when he watched Muhammad's chest moving for the last time, he was glad.
"I feel better. I think I can breathe better and I'm happy he's gone. Because he's not going to hurt anyone else," he said.
Dean's brother, Bob Meyers, said watching the execution was a point of closure but that he was "overcome by the sadness that the whole situation generates in my heart."
"Honestly it was surreal watching the life being sapped out of somebody intentionally was very different," he said on CNN's "Larry King Live."
J. Wyndal Gordon, one of Muhammad's attorneys, described his client in his final hours as fearless and still insisting he was innocent.
"He will die with dignity - dignity to the point of defiance," Gordon said.
The shootings terrorized the region, as victim after victim was shot down while doing everyday chores: going shopping, pumping gas, mowing the lawn. One child was shot while walking into his middle school.
People stayed indoors. Those who did go outside weaved as they walked or bobbed their heads to make themselves a less easy target.
The campaign of terror ended on Oct. 24, 2002, when police captured Muhammad and his teenage accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, as they slept at a Maryland rest stop in a car they had outfitted for a shooter to perch in its trunk without being detected. Malvo is serving a life prison term.
They also were suspected of fatal shootings in other states, including Louisiana, Alabama and Arizona.
The U.S. Supreme Court turned down Muhammad's final appeal Monday and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine denied clemency Tuesday.