- The Washington Times - Monday, November 11, 2002

A pair of old fishing buddies with a combined 70 years of legal experience will be lead prosecutors in the murder trials of two sniper suspects and will seek the death penalty against them.
The appointment of commonwealth's attorneys Paul B. Ebert of Prince William County and Robert F. Horan Jr. of Fairfax County is no surprise. They have a reputation for trying high-profile cases and securing death sentences.
"I don't think there's any better prosecutor on maybe the whole East Coast than Bob Horan," Mr. Ebert, 64, said. "I've often called him for advice."
Mr. Horan, who will try 17-year-old John Lee Malvo, won a death-penalty conviction against Aimal Khan Kasi, a Pakistani who gunned down two CIA workers in 1993. Mr. Kasi's execution is scheduled for Thursday.
Mr. Ebert, who will try John Allen Muhammad, 41, is the Virginia prosecutor with the most death-row convictions since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976. His office told the New York Times that Mr. Ebert has secured 12 death sentences.
But Mr. Ebert is best known as the Fairfax prosecutor who lost both trials in the Lorena Bobbitt case. Mrs. Bobbitt's husband, John Wayne Bobbitt, was found not guilty of assaulting her. And Mrs. Bobbitt was found not guilty of assaulting him, by reason of temporary insanity.
What few people know is Mr. Ebert and Mr. Horan, 70, share an enthusiasm for fishing.
"He and I are good friends," Mr. Ebert said. "We go back a long way. We've been fishing buddies and professional colleagues."
They frequently fish together on the Chesapeake Bay.
"Ebert's probably one of the most successful fishermen on the East Coast," said Mr. Horan, who thinks Mr. Ebert can outfish even commercial boats. Maryland officials once fined him $500 when he exceeded the catch limit on rockfish in 1993.
But for as much as Mr. Horan admires Mr. Ebert's fishing skills, Mr. Ebert says he looks up to Mr. Horan as a prosecutor.
Mr. Horan has spent more than half his life as one of Fairfax County's top legal authorities. He started the job in 1967, six years after graduating from Georgetown Law School. From 1954 to 1959, he served in the Marine Corps.
During his tenure as a commonwealth's attorney, he has tried more than a dozen high-profile cases, including many that resulted in death sentences.
His most famous case was the "Roy Rogers" murders in the late 1970s. Mr. Horan won a guilty verdict in the case of James L. Breeden for fatally shooting four persons "execution style" in a walk-in refrigerator at a Roy Rogers restaurant in the Arlandria section of the county. Breeden was sentenced to five life sentences.
Mr. Horan won his reputation, in part, with the Kasi case. Kasi, a Muslim fundamentalist, opened fire in 1993 with an AK-47 assault rifle outside CIA headquarters in McLean, killing two workers and wounding three others.
Mr. Horan's pursuit of the death penalty has prompted some people to call him merciless. At big trials, he wears a fierce expression on his ruddy, Irish-prizefighter face as he sits alone at the prosecution table opposite a team of fidgeting defense lawyers.
He dismisses the notion he has no compassion.
"I have heard that criticism," he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "But most of the cases I'm involved in are serious, violent crimes. I don't have a lot of nice, polite defendants. I'm dealing with tough guys. I have to be a tough guy, too. If that means I'm not compassionate, then I'm not."
Mr. Horan brought that attitude to a news conference last week when he told reporters he will seek a death sentence for Mr. Malvo, whom he plans to try as an adult in the Oct. 14 slaying of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, 47.
Mr. Malvo reportedly has told investigators he pulled the trigger in several of the sniper shootings that terrorized the Washington region, including the killing of Mrs. Franklin at the Home Depot store in Falls Church.
The Washington Post reports that three law-enforcement sources have provided that information. The newspaper also said Mr. Malvo described the routine he and Mr. Muhammad followed in the shootings. The story cites sources as saying Mr. Malvo described himself and Mr. Muhammad as behaving like soldiers, reportedly telling investigators the shootings were well-planned, involved scouting missions and communication through two-way radios.
Malvo defense lawyer Michael Arif has said he will try to suppress statements the teen made during his interrogation by federal and local investigators.
Mr. Malvo and Mr. Muhammad have been connected to 21 shootings in seven states and the District.
Mr. Ebert has also said he will seek death for Mr. Muhammad in Prince William County.
"As I've always said, the death penalty is reserved for the worst of the worst," he said. Asked whether he finds personal gratification in securing death sentences, Mr. Ebert said: "I don't take any pleasure in asking for the death penalty. They say more people have been sentenced to death in my jurisdiction than in any other. That's a rather dubious distinction, I think. It's just by chance that these things have happened on my watch."
Mr. Ebert, Prince William's top prosecutor since 1967, has been described by defense lawyers as a risk-taker. The description was proven in 1993 and 1994 when Mr. Ebert attempted to prosecute Lorena and John Wayne Bobbitt in the infamous case in which Mrs. Bobbitt reportedly cut off Mr. Bobbitt's penis while he was sleeping.
Taking risks has put Mr. Ebert ahead of his peers throughout life. He grew up in Falls Church, where he became a star athlete at George Mason High School. He later earned a bachelor's degree from Virginia Tech and later a law degree from George Washington University in 1963.
At 30, Mr. Ebert became the youngest commonwealth's attorney in Virginia history.
By 1986, he was winning cases with intricate litigation techniques.
In a case involving a 14-year-old girl who committed suicide, Mr. Ebert used the girl's diary, which included entries about being abused, to convict her stepfather.
Mr. Ebert said his most memorable case came in 1993 when he won a death sentence against Lonnie Weeks Jr., who killed Virginia State Trooper Jose Cavazos on an Interstate 95 ramp in Dale City.
"That case is a constant reminder of what can happen to police officers," he said. "It's every police officer's worst nightmare."

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