Malvo prosecutors allowed to pursue death penalty

Va. judge rejects 3 experts for sniper suspect's trial

April 01, 2003|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

FAIRFAX, Va. - A Fairfax County judge allowed prosecutors yesterday to continue seeking the death penalty for teen-age sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo over strenuous objections from his attorneys. She also approved three of six experts the defense wants to use in the trial, scheduled to begin Nov. 10.

Circuit Court Judge Jane M. Roush authorized the hiring of experts in DNA, fingerprinting and ballistics, but she rejected the request for specialists in voice recognition, handwriting analysis and death penalty mitigation. The defense has already won court approval for a mental-health specialist.

Malvo faces capital murder charges in the death of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, 47, who was shot Oct. 14 outside a Home Depot store in the Seven Corners section of Fairfax County.

Malvo and John Allen Muhammad, 42, are suspected of participating in a series of shootings last year that left 13 people dead and others wounded in Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana. Muhammad is scheduled to be tried in October in Prince William County, Va., on capital murder charges in the fatal shooting of Dean H. Meyers, 53.

Yesterday, Malvo's attorneys asked the judge to take the death sentence off the table, arguing that the execution of juveniles was a "relic of the past" and a "shameful practice." Now 18, Malvo was 17 at the time of Franklin's death.

Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. told Roush that he will ask jurors to find that Malvo was so depraved that he randomly chose innocent victims.

"The evidence will be that he really started out killing the husband [of Franklin], but the husband was putting material in the car," he said.

Horan described Malvo, who seemed to pay intermittent attention at the hearing, as smart and worldly but lacking any remorse.

Michael S. Arif, one of Malvo's lead lawyers, disputed the prosecutor's characterization of his client.

What Arif called the "granddaddy" of motions hearings will take place at the end of the month, when the defense asks Roush to throw out Malvo's statement to police and when contents of the statements are aired in court.

Roush rejected defense requests to bar prosecutors from presenting testimony and evidence of fatal shootings that police believe Malvo committed but for which he has not been convicted. She also rejected the defense's request to bar victim impact statements should there be a conviction.

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