- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Attorneys for sniper suspect John Lee Malvo won the right yesterday to examine statements the 17-year-old made to authorities during what his defense team described as a "seven-hour interrogation" in Fairfax County on Nov. 6.
Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge Kimberly Daniel ordered prosecutors to make the statements available to the defense team by Jan. 8. Mr. Malvo faces a preliminary hearing Jan. 14 in the Oct. 14 killing of FBI analyst Linda Franklin. Mrs. Franklin was shot in the head as she loaded packages into her car in the parking lot of a Home Depot store in Falls Church.
Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan said that he resisted handing over Mr. Malvo's statements because he did not plan to use them during the preliminary hearing, at which a judge will decide if there is probable cause to move forward with a trial.
Under Virginia law, prosecutors are not obligated to hand over such evidence before a preliminary hearing unless a judge finds "good cause" to do so. In this instance, she did.
"I believe there is good cause because of the complexity and severity of this case," Judge Daniel said. She ordered prosecutors to hand over to the defense team any statements made by Mr. Malvo "to any law enforcement official in Fairfax County or Prince William County" regarding the shooting of Mrs. Franklin or the Oct. 9 killing of Dean Harold Meyers in Prince William County.
To get the death penalty in a capital-murder case in Virginia, prosecutors must prove that the accused is responsible for two murders in a three-year period.
Mr. Horan argued that he already had given the defense team more than 15 pieces of evidence in preparation for Mr. Malvo's Jan. 14 preliminary hearing. The evidence includes autopsy reports, ballistics reports and handwritten notes discovered after two of 13 shootings.
"Under the rules, they weren't entitled to what they were given today," Mr. Horan said. "Assuming the case ended up in Circuit Court for trial, they would be entitled to all this."
Mr. Malvo's lead attorney, Michael S. Arif, said the statements the suspect made to authorities are likely to be "the crux of whatever the commonwealth's case is going to be" against him.
He said that although it was unlikely, it was his right to question Mr. Malvo during the preliminary hearing and he needed to know of any statements Mr. Malvo might have made. Mr. Horan said he had 20 witnesses prepared for the preliminary hearing, and Mr. Arif said Mr. Malvo's statements also would help him cross-exame those witnesses.
"Apparently everyone in the free world seems to have Mr. Malvo's statements except for the defense team," Mr. Arif said, referring to news reports indicating that Mr. Malvo told authorities he was responsible for several, if not all, of the shootings.
From Oct. 2 to Oct. 22, the Washington area was terrorized as a sniper killed 10 persons and wounded three in Maryland, Virginia and the District.
Mr. Malvo is charged in the shooting of Mrs. Franklin. His companion, John Allen Muhammad, is charged in the death of Mr. Meyers at a Manassas gas station. The two men were arrested Oct. 24 at an Interstate 70 rest area in Frederick County, Md.
Mr. Arif said he did not know whether the statements would come as videotapes, audiotapes, transcripts or notes. But he added that it was his understanding that all the statements were said during a seven-hour interrogation the day Mr. Malvo was transferred from federal custody to Fairfax County authorities.
But Mr. Horan's chief deputy, Raymond F. Morrough, denied in court that there was a seven-hour interrogation. Mr. Horan said Mr. Malvo was questioned, but he wouldn't specify for how long or what was said.
Mr. Malvo and Mr. Muhammad also are suspects in shootings in Washington state, Louisiana and Alabama.
Mr. Muhammad, who turns 42 today, is being held in Prince William County pending an Oct. 14 trial.

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