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Sniper suspect Malvo to claim insanity

Lawyers for D.C.-area sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo filed notice Thursday that they will mount an insanity defense at his murder trial next month.

Sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo’s lawyers filed notice Thursday that they will mount an insanity defense at his murder trial next month. A court-appointed psychiatrist has met with Malvo more than a dozen times in recent months, and those conversations formed the basis for the decision, according to defense lawyers.

THE PROSECUTOR, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr., said he has seen the report compiled by the mental health experts hired by the defense, and he disputed that it supports a finding of insanity.

“It says absolutely nothing about insanity,” Horan said. “Apparently it’s a late-blooming insanity.”

Malvo, 18, is set to go on trial Nov. 10 in the slaying of FBI analyst Linda Franklin outside a Home Depot store. She was among 13 people who were shot, 10 fatally, during a three-week spree in the Washington, D.C., area last fall.

The other sniper suspect, John Allen Muhammad, 42, goes on trial Tuesday in the slaying of man who was pumping gas near Manassas.

They are also suspected in or charged with shootings in Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Arizona and Washington state.

Both trials were moved 200 miles to southeastern Virginia.


Muhammad’s lawyers have argued that Malvo was the triggerman, while Malvo’s defense team has contended that the teenager was acting under the influence of the older man.

Both defendants could be sentenced to death if convicted.

Prosecutors agreed Oct. 1 to exclude some material from the trial of Muhammad after the defense complained that he was questioned improperly.

As a pretrial hearing began Oct. 1 on motions in Muhammad’s case, prosecutors said they would not use any material elicited from Muhammad in the 90 minutes before he was advised of his Miranda rights after his arrest last Oct. 24. A Maryland detective, James Drewry, testified that most of the early questioning dealt with background issues.


Muhammad and Malvo had not been in the same room together since they were arrested. But the two men had a reunion of sorts as Malvo appeared as a witness at the Oct. 1 hearing. He refused to testify, invoking his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

Craig Cooley, an attorney for Malvo, said before the Oct. 1 hearing that prosecutors wanted to know whether Malvo would testify in Muhammad’s trial. Legal ethics did not allow prosecutors to put a witness in front of a jury if they had a strong expectation that the witness would invoke his constitutional right to avoid self-incrimination, Cooley said.

Cooley said he expected that Muhammad would be called as a witness at a pretrial hearing for Malvo.

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