- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 3, 2003

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) — As Lee Boyd Malvo’s former teachers and a classmate testified in the trial in Chesapeake last week, more than 70 seniors from Gloucester High School viewed the proceedings on live closed-circuit television across the street.

School officials brought the students to the viewing area at the Great Bridge Community Center hoping they will draw lessons from the murder trial of the sniper suspect, who at 18 is not much older than most of the students.

“Malvo’s trial should have a greater impact on the students because of his age,” said government teacher Sabrina Bellino, who organized the field trip for her five classes. “Influences can change your life dramatically. Think about it, if Malvo wasn’t with Muhammad, would he be here today?”

In the past month, the seniors focused on courtroom procedure by studying legal terms and examining Virginia Supreme Court decisions in death penalty cases dating back to the 1980s.

“I’m not really sure what the reaction will be,” Mrs. Bellino said before court started. “But either way, they’re going to get something from it.”

A burly deputy started off the day with a few ground rules: No giggling, no laughing, no narcotics paraphernalia. For the next two hours, with one break, the students watched the defendant’s background unfold.

“I was excited because when he shot the man in Ashland, I was there,” said Jessica Waggoner, 17. “It is sad but, if he actually did it, I’d want him to get [the death penalty]. There is no excuse for shooting people.”

Mr. Malvo is charged with capital murder in the Oct. 14, 2002, shooting of Linda Franklin at a Home Depot in Falls Church. His attorneys argue that he should be acquitted of the murder charges because indoctrination by convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad rendered him legally insane.

Last Tuesday, defense attorneys portrayed the teenager as a child who was respectful and obedient to authority. They also showed that he was frequently uprooted during his childhood.

The tactics were not lost on the students.

“They’re trying to see what his past life was like to get an idea of who he was when he was younger,” said senior Krystal Jaurby, 18. “Teachers usually have a good idea of who you are.”

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