A Virginia judge gave prosecutors a small victory yesterday over sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo, allowing the teen-ager's court-appointed guardian to stay on the capital murder case but stripping him of most of his authority and rejecting his bid for criminal investigative records.
Lawyer Todd G. Petit said the ruling leaves him no way to demand school, medical and other records on his client for a report for the Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court to consider before Malvo's Jan. 14 preliminary hearing. The hearing is expected to lead to Malvo standing trial in Circuit Court, where he will face a possible death sentence.
Describing his reduced role as leaving him "toothless" and "frustrated," Petit said after the hearing that prosecutors have not given him information he sought weeks ago and are guaranteeing an incomplete report to the court. "It seems like they are trying to hide something," he said.
Despite the setback, more efforts to delve into Malvo's background can be made in Circuit Court. Thomas B. Walsh, one of Malvo's defense lawyers, said he is happy to have Petit even in a reduced role because some of Petit's work "will benefit me."
The ruling by Charles J. Maxfield, chief judge of the Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, gives authorities for Fairfax, Prince William and Hanover counties nearly exactly what they sought.
Malvo, who was present but was not asked to speak yesterday, is charged in the killing Oct. 14 of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, 47, outside a Home Depot in Fairfax County.
He and John Allen Muhammad, 41, are accused or suspected in at least 21 shootings, 14 of them fatal, in Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama and Washington state.
For three weeks in October, sniper shootings sent fear through the Washington, D.C., area.
Muhammad is charged in the Oct. 9 killing of Dean Meyers at a Manassas gas station in neighboring Prince William County. He is due to appear a week from today in court there, where a judge will set a trial date for his capital murder charges and hear arguments on whether to permit television cameras at the trial.
Malvo's defense team has had little success with a flurry of pretrial motions in the Juvenile Court. Efforts to persuade the court to allow them to hire a psychiatrist, experts in DNA, fingerprinting and ballistics, and moving Malvo to a juvenile jail have failed. However, it is likely they will be permitted to hire experts and a psychiatrist as the case moves along.
Sun staff writer Stephen Kiehl contributed to this article.