Sniper suspect's hearing to be open

Judge allows presence of media at Tues. session in case against Malvo, 17

January 11, 2003|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

The hearing next week that will determine if teen-age sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo can be tried as an adult for capital murder will be open to the news media and the public despite pleas by Malvo's guardian and defense lawyers for a private hearing, a Fairfax County, Va. judge ruled yesterday.

The preliminary hearing, at which prosecutors must present enough detailed evidence for a judge to send the case to Fairfax County Circuit Court, would generate such publicity that it would be extremely difficult for Malvo to receive a fair trial, his lawyers argued.

Saying the public has a right to know - and that much of the public is interested - prosecutors and news organizations sought to keep the hearing open.

"This is a matter of timeliness - when will the public be told what the evidence is against the juvenile?" said Todd G. Petit, Malvo's court-appointed guardian. "Next week isn't necessary."

"Based on the hearing here today, I can't do that," said Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge Charles Maxfield.

Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. is expected to present at least 20 witnesses at the preliminary hearing Tuesday.

Malvo, 17, and John Allen Muhammad, 42, are accused of shooting 18 people last year, killing more than a dozen. Malvo is charged in the Oct. 14 fatal shooting of FBI analyst Linda Franklin outside a Home Depot store in the Seven Corners section of the county.

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