- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 16, 2002

Attorneys for sniper suspect John Lee Malvo failed yesterday in two court bids to improve what they call "inhumane" treatment of the 17-year-old being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.
Circuit Judge M. Langhorne Keith rejected a motion filed by Mr. Malvo's court-appointed guardian, Todd Petit, to have the teenager moved from the adult jail to a juvenile detention center. Mr. Malvo was ordered held without bail in Fairfax County Nov. 8 on capital murder charges in the shooting Oct. 3 of FBI analyst Linda Franklin outside a Home Depot at the Seven Corners Shopping Center in Fairfax County.
Judge Keith was swayed in his decision by testimony from juvenile jail Superintendent George Corbin, who repeatedly stated that the teenager would be a security risk. Mr. Corbin described the juvenile jail as a "minimum-security" facility, and said his staff does not carry guns and that the jail has no perimeter fence and no guard towers.
"In my professional opinion, the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center is more secure than the Juvenile Detention Center," Mr. Corbin said. "As a custodian, I clearly felt this young man posed a threat to the safety and security of my building."
Later in the day, Mr. Malvo's court-appointed attorney, Michael Arif, argued in an emergency motion filed with the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court that his client is being treated in an inhumane manner, locked in solitary confinement under constant surveillance with "nothing to do but look at the walls."
Through the two hearings, Mr. Malvo sat at the defense table, sometimes following the discourse, sometimes staring off and once in the afternoon laying his head on the table over his folded arms. He was led into the hearings in handcuffs, with more than a dozen sheriff's deputies guarding the courtroom. He wore a green jumpsuit, his hair slightly unruly but without a hint of a beard on what remains a boyish face.
Mr. Arif told Judge Charles J. Maxfield that the teenager had been given nothing to read, was monitored by guards even as he showered and used the toilet, and had only a thin mattress and blanket on the floor on which to sleep. Mr. Arif described how the teenager had torn a business card to bits to play makeshift games of checkers on a tabletop board.
"This is about the right to human dignity," Mr. Arif said. "I think my client is being treated completely inappropriately."
Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said Mr. Arif's claims of inhumane treatment "fall just slightly short of frivolous."
"Jail is not a nice place," Mr. Horan said after the hearing, "but I think it's better than the front seat of a Caprice." Mr. Malvo and his companion, John Allen Muhammad, were arrested Oct. 24 while sleeping in a blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice that police believe was used during a three-week shooting spree that killed 10 persons and wounded three in Maryland, the District and Virginia. They are also charged with shootings in Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia, and are suspected in a shooting in Washington state.
Mr. Muhammad, 41, faces capital murder charges in Prince William County in the shooting of Dean Harold Meyers as he filled his car with gas in Manassas.
Mr. Arif said the Fairfax County Sheriff's Office, which oversees the jail, had provided some relief since the motion was filed, allowing a curtain behind which Mr. Malvo can shower and use the toilet. But he appealed to the judge to order the sheriff to dim the lights in Mr. Malvo's cell at night and provide the youth with vegetarian meals.
Judge Maxfield rejected the motion, saying he would need "a lot more evidence" before issuing such an order. However, he did grant Mr. Arif's request that legal counsel be notified before any routine medical or psychological screenings of Mr. Malvo. Prison officials generally interview inmates at least once a week to determine their mental status and any special concerns, and Mr. Malvo's attorneys were concerned the information could later be used against their client in court.
Fairfax County Sheriff Stan G. Barry said the request was unprecedented but that he would comply. As far as Mr. Arif's other assertions, the sheriff said Mr. Malvo was considered a high-risk inmate and had been treated no differently than other high-risk inmates, including keeping one of the two overhead lights in his cell on all night for observation.
Sheriff Barry said the teenager had been denied a shower curtain because he was under "intense suicide watch" from the time he first arrived at the jail until a psychological screening could be completed. He is no longer under suicide watch.
Sheriff Barry said every meal at the jail includes vegetables but that special meals are only prepared for inmates with religious dietary restrictions or food allergies.
"As far as personal preferences, we don't accommodate those," Sheriff Barry said.
Also yesterday, Judge Keith denied a motion from Mr. Muhammad's attorney, Peter Greenspun, seeking a gag order on local and federal law enforcement authorities after news reports disclosed details of a questioning session Nov. 7 during which Mr. Malvo reportedly took responsibility for several of the shootings.
Judge Keith said he had no authority to issue an order affecting the FBI and said he needed more evidence that Fairfax County police were responsible for leaking information to the media before imposing a prior restraint on them.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide