- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 20, 2002

A Fairfax County judge yesterday rejected a request from attorneys for sniper suspect John Lee Malvo to hire a psychiatrist to determine whether the 17-year-old should seek an insanity defense.
Attorney Michael Arif said he needs a psychiatrist to evaluate his client because "we're not certain what makes Mr. Malvo tick."
"I have met with him, but I am not an expert," Mr. Arif said. "While we may not claim insanity, we do not know at this point whether that is an issue."
Mr. Arif also asked for forensic experts in ballistics, DNA and fingerprinting to help evaluate evidence in the case.
But Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge Kimberly J. Daniel agreed with prosecutors, who said Mr. Arif's request was premature.
"You're only guessing at this juncture what you need and why you need it," Judge Daniel told Mr. Arif.
The teen suspect would likely be entitled to those experts to prepare for a trial, but Mr. Malvo has not yet been indicted and is still awaiting a preliminary hearing, which will determine whether there is probable cause to proceed to an indictment and trial.
The teen is charged with capital murder in the Oct. 14 shooting of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, who was shot outside a Home Depot in the Seven Corners area of Fairfax County.
Mr. Malvo's accused accomplice, John Allen Muhammad, 41, is being held in adjacent Prince William County. He also is charged with capcapital murder for the Oct. 9 shooting of Dean Meyers outside a Manassas-area gas station. The sniper suspects face the death penalty for the crimes that police have linked to a three-week shooting spree in October that left 10 dead and three others seriously wounded.
Also yesterday, the teen's preliminary hearing was pushed back from Dec. 5 to Jan. 14. Defense attorneys had requested the delay so they could have more time to prepare. They had initially requested a longer delay, but prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed on the Jan. 14 date.
Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr., who has been the county's chief prosecutor for 35 years, said he had never before seen a request for defense experts to be hired for a preliminary hearing.
"It's premature," he said after the hearing. "Many of these experts will be allowed once there's a case in front of trial court."
He also said he would be surprised if Mr. Malvo's attorneys attempt an insanity defense.
Mr. Arif said he needs to consult with forensic experts and a psychiatrist as soon as possible "to level the playing field a little bit" with government investigators who have devoted untold hours to the case.
He also said he cannot determine if he needs to pursue an insanity defense until he can have a psychiatrist evaluate his client.
"I respect the judge's decision. I'll abide by it, but I don't know how I can live with it," he said.
The teen suspect's attorneys have previously filed motions complaining about his placement in an adult jail and his treatment there.
But two different judges have ruled that it would be inappropriate to put Mr. Malvo in a less secure juvenile facility. On Friday, a judge refused to order the teen's jailers to improve his conditions. Mr. Malvo's attorneys had complained about a lack of privacy, a thin mattress and a lack of vegetarian meals at the Fairfax County jail.
Yesterday, the animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals urged that Mr. Malvo and other inmates be allowed vegetarian meals upon request.
Also yesterday, a coalition of broadcasters filed a motion requesting that a TV camera be permitted at Mr. Muhammad's trial.
Prince William County has allowed TV cameras in high-profile trials before, but prosecutors and defense attorneys have already said they would oppose such a motion.
The final decision on the request will rest with Judge Leroy Millette. So far, he has allowed a still camera in the courtroom, despite the objections of defense attorney Peter Greenspun.


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