(Matt Cilley/Associated Press
MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho - If Marion Lewis had his way, he’d take Washington, D.C.-area sniper John Allen Muhammad into the Idaho desert near his home and kill him slowly over three days.
“He would be screaming the whole time. That’s why I can’t claim to be a good Christian,’’ said Lewis, whose 25-year-old daughter was killed in Maryland in the 2002 shootings.
But instead of personal retribution, Lewis would settle for being present in the Virginia death chamber Nov. 10 when Muhammad is scheduled to be executed.
He doesn’t have the money for the trip to see his daughter’s killer breathe his last breath. The 57-year-old construction worker says he has been waylaid by the recession, hasn’t held a steady job for two years, and has been collecting unemployment on and off since 2007. He’s trying to unload a house near Boise in a short sale.
Though Lewis acknowledges he feels “a little ghoulish,’’ he called the syndicated news program “Inside Edition’’ looking for help to pay for a journey he believes will put some semblance of closure on his daughter’s death. He has learned that justice has its price.
Yesterday morning, he said the New York-based show has agreed to finance a four-day trip to Virginia, in exchange for interviews before and after Muhammad’s execution.
“There’s never been any question about watching that animal die, for me,’’ said Lewis, who shares a home with his wife, Jo, and two beagles 2 miles from the tidy cemetery where his daughter is buried.
His daughter, Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera, was vacuuming her minivan Oct. 3, 2002, at a gas station near where she lived in Silver Spring, Md., when Muhammad and his young accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, gunned her down. She was one of 10 people killed in the three-week series of shootings.
Lewis’s living room walls are covered in pictures reminding him of the tragedy: Lori on her wedding day; Lori and Nelson Rivera, the Honduran landscaper she met at a Mormon church and married; their daughter, Jocelin, now 10.
Patricia Allue, director of the Prince William County Victim/Witness Program in Virginia, said Lewis contacted her office looking for assistance, but she did not have funds available. Officials in Maryland, where Lori Rivera was killed, did not return a phone call seeking comment.
And the Virginia Department of Corrections does not provide financial assistance to victims’ families to attend executions. Officials there have been in contact with relatives of Muhammad’s and Malvo’s victims, including those killed in Maryland and Washington, D.C., in part because the facility in rural southern Virginia where the execution will take place has limited capacity for those wanting to watch Muhammad die.
Larry Traylor, a prisons spokesman, said his agency does help families like Lewis’s with logistics.
Fearful he would miss the execution, Lewis called “Inside Edition,’’ a 20-year-old program that mixes celebrity news, investigations, and human-interest stories.
The show will pay for Lewis to fly to Virginia on Nov. 8, attend the execution two days later, and then return to Idaho after Muhammad is dead. Lewis said he isn’t quite sure what attending will bring, but he doesn’t want to miss it.
“As far as closure, this will never be closed,’’ he said.