Mildred and John Muhammad married in 1988 and separated in 1999. On March 27, 2000, John Muhammad picked up the two girls from school and came to Mildred's house to get John Jr. He said he was taking them shopping. Instead, he took them to the Caribbean island of Antigua, traveling under aliases.
He returned with the children to Washington state in August 2001; they were soon seized by authorities and turned over to the mother. After the custody hearing, Mildred Muhammad said, she saw him in the corridor.
That night, Mildred Muhammad boarded a plane for Baltimore with her three children. Her attorney had advised her to leave Washington as soon as she could. "She said based on John's behavior in court, I needed to leave for fear that he may find me and kill me," she testified.
Defense attorneys presented six witnesses who knew their client in Washington state. They testified that he was a considerate and polite person who loved his children. They said that even when customers of his auto repair business couldn't pay their bills, he worked on their cars because he wanted them to be safe.
The lengthiest testimony came from Marez, a single mother who said she had an affair with Muhammad in the late 1990s. She said he was a wonderful cook and a gifted mechanic who had dreams of owning his own restaurant and opening a gym.
"John is a very considerate person and just the strongest, most gentlest person I've ever known," said Marez, 45. "I feel that his life will always have value. I know he's a person with so much to give."
She choked up with tears during her testimony, and jurors quickly passed over to the witness stand a box of tissues they had been using earlier in the day. Several jurors had cried and covered their eyes during the emotional testimony of Larry Meyers, the oldest brother of sniper victim Dean H. Meyers, 53.
A civil engineer, Dean Meyers survived a bullet in the arm fired by a Viet Cong sniper in Vietnam only to be killed years later by another sniper at a gas station north of Manassas, Va. His death was one of 10 sniper killings last October that authorities have linked to Muhammad and Malvo.
Larry Meyers said his brother was a humble, frugal person who never owned a CD player or a large television but gave thousands of dollars to charities and sponsored children in Africa for 20 years. Meyers told of how he had to break the news to his parents of their son's death.
He said his mother had dementia and did not fully understand. She died Easter Sunday this year - a death that Meyers said was accelerated by her son's murder. Meyers said his father broke down as his son delivered the news of the murder.
"Losing someone like that causes a void which can never really be replaced," Meyers said. He talked of how two years ago the four Meyers brothers decided to try to visit as many baseball parks as they could in the coming years. So in 2001, they took the train to New York to catch a game at Yankee Stadium. And in 2002, they went to Boston to see Fenway Park.
"He was my brother, and I think he was my best friend," Meyers said through tears. He also read a reflection he wrote recently, addressed to his brother: "We missed you last Thanksgiving and at Christmas, too. Mom left us Easter morning. She now lies near you. Perhaps you've already met up there. This year we didn't have a Labor Day picnic. And no trip was planned."