- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 11, 2003

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Lee Boyd Malvo was very aggressive as a boy and killed stray cats years before he met convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad, a defense psychiatrist testified under cross-examination yesterday.

Dr. Neil Blumberg, who examined the suspect about 20 times in jail, said Mr. Malvo began exhibiting antisocial behavior at age 8 or 9, when he began killing stray cats with a slingshot. The forensic psychiatrist also said the defendant stole comic books and compact discs.

“All of that behavior would have been before he ever met John Muhammad, correct?” said Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr.

Dr. Blumberg agreed.

Prosecutors yesterday challenged testimony by Dr. Blumberg and another psychiatrist who said Wednesday that the suspect was legally insane during last year’s sniper rampage in the Washington area.

Dr. Blumberg and psychiatrist Diane H. Schetky had testified that Mr. Malvo, 18, did not know right from wrong at that time — the legal standard for insanity in Virginia.

Prosecutors yesterday persuaded Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush to allow them to call additional witnesses on Monday to rebut the forensic psychiatrists’ testimony.

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh said the suspect either lied when he confessed to police last year about being the triggerman in all of the Washington-area shootings or when he told the psychiatrists that he pulled the trigger in only a couple of them.

“He lies,” Mr. Morrogh said of the suspect. “I think we are entitled to show that.”

Meanwhile, Judge Roush dismissed a juror yesterday because he is not a Chesapeake resident and is ineligible to serve.

“It will not impact the outcome of the trial,” said court spokesman Mark S. Cox. “The court acknowledged that this was an innocent mistake on the part of the juror.”

Juror No. 42, a 22-year-old white man who is a sales representative, apparently misunderstood a question about his residency status during jury selection five weeks ago.

He had lived in Chesapeake for six months before the trial but now resides in nearby Suffolk.

A nonjuror told the court about the discrepancy Wednesday night, and the judge decided to remove the juror yesterday, Mr. Cox said.

The dismissal reduced the panel to 12 jurors and three alternates comprising seven white women, three white men, two black women, two black men and an Asian man.

The trial recessed yesterday for a three-day weekend. Proceedings are not scheduled today and will resume Monday morning, when the defense is expected to rest and the prosecution will begin presenting rebuttal witnesses.

In addition to its own expert witnesses who will testify about Mr. Malvo’s mental health, the prosecution will call Paul LaRuffa, 55, who was wounded when he was shot six times on Sept. 5, 2002, during a robbery in front of his restaurant in Clinton, Md., and Rupinder Oberoi, 22, who was shot and wounded Sept. 14, 2002, at a liquor store in Silver Spring.

Both men are expected to identify Mr. Malvo as their assailant.

Additional testimony will show that Mr. Malvo lied to his psychiatrists about the extent of his crimes, Mr. Morrogh said.

Craig S. Cooley, a lead defense attorney, objected to putting Mr. LaRuffa on the witness stand.

“They just want to put on Mr. LaRuffa to generate sympathy from the jury,” he said. “There is nothing to rebut.”

Judge Roush overruled the objection.

For five hours yesterday, Mr. Horan questioned Dr. Blumberg about the suspect’s mental health at various times in his life and at specific times during the sniper rampage.

The psychiatrist continued to say that the defendant was mentally defective and the victim of mind control by fall 2001, when he came to live with Muhammad in Bellingham, Wash.

He said Mr. Malvo continues to suffer from symptoms of his malady, which is known as a dissociative disorder.

The teenager is being tried on two counts of capital murder in the Oct. 14, 2002, slaying of Linda Franklin, 47, outside a Falls Church Home Depot. One count falls under the state’s antiterrorism law, the other under a serial-killer law.

A Virginia Beach jury last month recommended that Muhammad be executed for his role in the Oct. 9, 2002, shooting death of Dean Harold Meyers, 53, at a Manassas gas station.

Mr. Malvo and Muhammad are accused of last year’s sniper attacks that left 10 dead and three wounded in the Washington area. They also are accused of nine other shootings in five states last year.


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