- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Leaks to reporters about statements John Lee Malvo made during an "unconstitutional interrogation" are "poisoning the jury pool" in Fairfax County, said the juvenile sniper suspect's attorney, who vows to have the statements tossed out of court before trial.
The lawyer, Michael Arif, has criticized police for questioning the 17-year-old without his court-appointed guardian present and for telling a reporter about several confessions apparently made during the questioning.
But federal law enforcement officials familiar with the sniper investigation say Mr. Malvo was advised of his rights by Fairfax County authorities and consented to the questioning, "even boasting" at times that he had been the shooter in some of the killings.
Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. told The Washington Times yesterday that he also was "outraged" that a law enforcement officer would have talked to reporters about the interrogation.
"I'll tell you if they worked for me and I found out who they were, they'd be fired," Mr. Horan said. However, he does not expect the leaks to jeopardize his case against Mr. Malvo. Mr. Horan has not identified Mr. Malvo by name, instead referring to him as "the juvenile."
"There have been leaks in this thing from the front end," Mr. Horan said. "It got to the point that it was a gag among the investigators that if they wanted to know what was going on they should just tune in to CNN. It's not fair to the guys who are actually working the case out on the street."
One law enforcement official, who asked not to be identified, said Mr. Malvo was "eager to talk" with investigators, describing "in specific detail" how the killings were carried out and outlining a "military-type operation," in which two-way radios were used to position the shooters and target the intended victims.
A pair of two-way radios were found in the 1990 Chevrolet Caprice in which Mr. Malvo and his mentor and suspected accomplice in the sniper shootings, John Allen Muhammad, were arrested Oct. 24 at a Maryland highway rest stop.
During the interrogation, which began Thursday about 6 p.m. and lasted until 1 a.m. Friday, Mr. Malvo never mentioned Mr. Muhammad, sources said.
Mr. Malvo and Mr. Muhammad, 41, were transferred to Fairfax County and Prince William County respectively on Thursday afternoon, after U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft decided those were the best locations out of the six jurisdictions involved in the spree to first prosecute them.
Virginia laws provide the most opportunities to obtain the death penalty. The state allows the execution of 17-year-olds and has put to death 86 persons since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976, more than any state except Texas.
Sources told The Washington Post that Mr. Malvo confessed during the interrogation to being the one who fired the Bushmaster rifle on Oct. 7, critically wounded a 13-year-old boy outside Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie.
Mr. Arif said the information leaks "immeasurably undermines" Mr. Malvo's right to a fair trial.
"The police are flooding the media and poisoning the jury pool with their own paraphrasing and subjective interpretations of statements made during an unconstitutional interrogation of our client," he said in a statement.
"This strategy of poisoning the well attempting to eliminate any possibility of an impartial jury is both unnecessary and unprofessional," Mr. Arif said. "We would submit that this unfettered release of information of questionable accuracy suggests an insecurity on the part of the commonwealth with the admissibility of these statements, and possibly the strength of the case as a whole."
Mr. Malvo is expected to face capital murder charges in the Oct. 14 slaying of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, 47, who was gunned down while loading packages into her car outside a Home Depot in the Seven Corners area of Fairfax County. He is being held without bond until his next hearing date on Dec. 5. Officials say they are trying to find his mother, Uma Sceon James, who is believed to be in the Bellingham, Wash., area.
Mrs. James and her son were arrested by the Border Patrol on Dec. 19 in Bellingham as illegal immigrants from Jamaica. However, they avoided deportation after the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service overruled a Border Patrol recommendation they be sent home. Mrs. James was freed on $1,500 bond and was scheduled for a deportation hearing Nov. 20.
It was not clear yesterday whether Mr. Malvo's apparent confession to that killing and others will affect Prince William County's case against Mr. Muhammad. He faces capital murder charges in the Oct. 9 slaying of Dean Harold Meyers, 53, who was gunned down while pumping gas at 9:30 p.m. at the Battlefield Sunoco station in Manassas.

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