- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Law-enforcement authorities outside the D.C. area say they should have the next opportunity to prosecute convicted sniper Lee Boyd Malvo because their states have the best chance to deliver the death penalty.

A jury in Chesapeake, Va., sentenced Malvo, 18, on Tuesday to life without parole for killing FBI analyst Linda Franklin at a Home Depot in Falls Church in October last year.

The verdict came less than a month after a Virginia Beach jury sentenced John Allen Muhammad, 42, to death for the Oct. 9, 2002, slaying of Dean Harold Meyers at a gas station in Manassas.

Malvo and his former accomplice have been linked to 20 shootings, including 15 deaths in Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Washington state and the District.

The final decision on where the pair could be prosecuted next rests with Virginia Gov. Mark Warner. A spokesman for Mr. Warner, Democrat, reiterated yesterday that no decision would be made before Muhammad is sentenced Feb. 12.

John W. Sinquefield, first assistant district attorney for East Baton Rouge Parish in Louisiana, said he intends to prosecute the pair and seek the death penalty — but he’s not sure when.

“I don’t care if it’s seven years from now,” Mr. Sinquefield said. “If I’m still around, they’re going to be brought back and tried here in Baton Rouge for what they’ve done here.”

In Louisiana, the pair are charged in the Sept. 23, 2002, shooting of Hong Im Ballenger, a married mother of two who was shot in the head outside the supply store where she worked.

Muhammad and Malvo are scheduled for arraignment on May 3.

Mr. Sinquefield, a prosecutor for 32 years, said he would have an advantage in prosecuting Malvo because under Louisiana law, a person is considered an adult at 17.

Malvo was 17 at the time of the sniper shootings. During his trial, his defense team skillfully portrayed him as a young man under the influence of a strong-willed Muhammad.

“I haven’t seen anything that would make me believe that he didn’t know right from wrong at the time he committed the crime or that he was mentally deficient,” Mr. Sinquefield said.

District Attorney Ellen Brooks has said she intends to bring both men to Montgomery, Ala., for trial and will seek the death penalty against both.

Muhammad and Malvo are charged with capital murder in Montgomery in the Sept. 21, 2002, killing of Claudine Parker outside a liquor store.

Montgomery Police Chief Jim Wilson said Alabama has a strong death-penalty law and plenty of evidence against Malvo.

“We were already close to the top of the list because we have a strong death-penalty law,” Chief Wilson said. “They would have to search real hard to find another jurisdiction with as much evidence as we have here against Malvo.”

Malvo and Muhammad are charged with capital murder in the October 2002 shooting of Kenneth Bridges, 53, outside a gas station in Spotsylvania County, Va. Spotsylvania County Commonwealth’s Attorney William F. Neely has not said whether he will try the pair.

Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. has said he thinks he will have the next prosecution of Muhammad and expects that Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul B. Ebert will have the next prosecution of Malvo.

Montgomery County State’s Attorney Douglas F. Gansler has said he thinks he should have the next chance to prosecute Muhammad and Malvo because the county was affected disproportionately by the sniper shootings, with six victims. But Maryland law prohibits him from seeking the death penalty against Malvo, because Malvo was just 17 at the time of the shootings.

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams this week also expressed a desire to see the men face justice in the Oct. 3 killing of Pascal Charlot, 72, in Northwest.

The District has been all but dismissed as a destination for the snipers because it has no death penalty.

In Atlanta, Muhammad and Malvo have not been charged but are thought to be responsible for the Sept. 21, 2002, shooting death of liquor-store clerk Million A. Woldemariam. Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard has said that based on the strength of his case and the number of other jurisdictions that are in line to prosecute the pair, his office is taking a “wait-and-see posture.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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