Today in 2003 a six-week trial was concluded with the conviction of John Allen Muhammad (a.k.a. John Williams) for the murder of Dean Meyers, murder with the intent to terrorize the government or public, conspiracy to commit murder, and the illegal use of a firearm.
The prosecution could not produce an eyewitness who actually saw Muhammad pull the trigger resulting in at least 10 random sniper-type murders in Washington, D.C., and vicinity but did produce over 130 witnesses and 400 pieces of evidence to prove the largely circumstantial case.
Muhammad was executed by lethal injection November 10, 2009. An accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo, a minor at the time, was sentenced to a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Today in 1958 the Kingston Trio’s “Tom Dooley” became #1 on “Billboard’s” pop chart. The ballad was a new version of a folk song about Tom Dula who was hanged for the murder of his fiancée Laura Foster, circa 1868.
The hit song paved the way for folk songs entering the pop music market and making their popularity viable money-makers. Unlike artists who followed, the Kingston Trio was clean-cut college students in crew cuts, rather than the counter culture images of Joan Baez and Bob Dylan.
Today in 1968 the Oakland Raiders trailed the New York Jets by a two-possession score. The Raiders scored two touchdowns in nine seconds, winning the game 43-32. Unfortunately, millions of fans watching the game on TV didn’t see the last 65 seconds of the game because the telecast suddenly switched its broadcast to the movie “Heidi.”
Thousands of outraged fans called NBC and the overloaded switchboard blew. The telephone company, the “New York Times,” and the New York Police Department had clogged telephone lines for hours from irate fans.
Originally, NBC executives decided to run the movie no matter what the game and later changed their minds. A programmer didn’t get the word about the reversed decision.
Afterward, NFL contracts carry a standard clause that all games would be broadcast until the end. To prevent another “Heidi Bowl” control rooms have their own switchboard, known today as the “Heidi phone.”