Va. official is `sure' that Malvo will face death penalty charges

Indictment to be posted today after testimony in killing of FBI analyst

January 22, 2003|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

FAIRFAX, VA. - Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said yesterday that he was confident that court documents released today will show that a grand jury indicted teen-age sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo on charges of capital murder.

The grand jury, meeting behind closed doors, considered testimony against Malvo yesterday afternoon from a Fairfax County police detective who told a juvenile court judge last week that she questioned the 17-year- old for six hours after he was transferred from federal custody.

Horan said he was "sure" documents today would indicate Malvo was indicted on charges that could bring a death sentence. But Horan said an indictment, if obtained, would not be public until the Circuit Court posts it this morning. He said he was seeking the indictment on charges stemming from the murder of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, gunned down Oct. 14 in the parking lot of a Home Depot at Seven Corners.

"You can assume he is going to be tried on those charges on which probable cause was found" in last week's court proceeding, Horan said.

A juvenile court judge cleared the way for Malvo to be tried as an adult on two counts of capital murder - one for allegedly committing two killings in less than three years, the other under an untested Virginia anti-terrorism law - and a felony weapons charge.

A member of Malvo's defense team and his guardian said they, too, expected the indictment.

Earlier in the day, Fairfax County Circuit Judge Jane M. Roush dismissed efforts by Malvo's court-appointed guardian, Todd G. Petit, to gain access to police and other agency documents about his client. A juvenile court judge severely restricted his authority last month. Roush refused to consider Petit's challenge on procedural grounds.

"What are they trying to hide?" Petit said later, noting that his diminished role was the result of opposition from state officials.

But Petit vowed to renew efforts to obtain the documents. He said he intends to serve as guardian until he is thrown off the case. Malvo turns 18 next month, and it is unclear whether Petit can stay on after that.

Malvo and John Allen Muhammad, 42, are accused of shooting 18 people, 13 fatally, in five states and the District of Columbia. Muhammad is scheduled for trial Oct. 14 in neighboring Prince William County on capital murder charges in the killing of Dean Meyers at a gas station a few days before Franklin was shot.

Defense lawyer Thomas B. Walsh said he would like Malvo's trial to take place after Muhammad's. Horan said he would like to try Malvo this summer.

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