- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Fairfax County's top prosecutor told a judge yesterday that 17-year-old sniper suspect John Lee Malvo can be linked to at least four October shootings through fingerprints, ballistics evidence, notes left for police and several phone calls to authorities.
Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. called 10 of more than two dozen witnesses in the first day of a preliminary hearing to decide whether Mr. Malvo should be prosecuted as an adult and face the death penalty.
The hearing will continue today at 9 a.m.
Mr. Horan's first witness was William Franklin, the husband of FBI analyst Linda Franklin. Mr. Malvo is charged with killing Mrs. Franklin outside a Home Depot store in Falls Church.
In an emotional testimony, Mr. Franklin described how he and his wife were attempting to load a long shelf into their car in the store parking lot just after 9 p.m. on Oct. 14.
"I heard a noise and felt something hit me on the side of my face," Mr. Franklin said. He said he later realized that "it was her blood."
"I went to her side to see if there was anything I could do but there wasn't," he said. "She had been shot through the head. She was lying on the ground."
Mr. Franklin told defense attorneys that he did not see the blue Chevrolet Caprice in which Mr. Malvo and fellow suspect John Allen Muhammad were arrested.
In his opening statement, Mr. Horan linked Mr. Malvo to four communications with police two phone calls and two notes left at the scenes of a wounding of a man outside a Ponderosa restaurant in Ashland, Va., and the slaying of Montgomery County bus driver Conrad Johnson.
Mr. Horan called police officers and evidence handlers from several of the shootings, including the Home Depot shooting, the shooting that killed Dean Harold Meyers outside a Sunoco station in Prince William County and the shooting that critically injured a man outside the Ponderosa restaurant.
Today, Mr. Horan will present evidence, including a taunting note left for police, that he says shows that Mr. Malvo was involved in the Oct. 22 killing of Mr. Johnson in Aspen Hill.
Ballistics analysts with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms yesterday said Mrs. Franklin and Mr. Meyers were killed with the same weapon, a Bushmaster .223. They said it was the same weapon seized from the Caprice when Mr. Muhammad and Mr. Malvo were arrested while they were sleeping.
Mr. Horan called fingerprint analysts who said Mr. Malvo's and Mr. Muhammad's fingerprints had been found on a Baltimore map taken from a display rack in the Sunoco station where Mr. Meyers was killed.
The analysts also said Mr. Malvo's fingerprints were found on a package of raisins at the Ashland shooting. The package was found near a tree where a note had been tacked in a plactic bag with a cartoon character on the front.
The note contained the warning: "Your children are not safe anywhere at any time."
Mr. Horan said the evidence pointed to Mr. Malvo taking part in a series of killings that were an attempt to inspire fear in the community and extort money from the government.
"All of this was an attempt to intimidate the government to pay in excess of $10 million for these defendants, and this defendant in particular, to stop the shooting," Mr. Horan said in his opening statement.
The defense team did not make an opening statement but questioned the witnesses on the details of how they cordoned off crime scenes, what they saw and heard when they arrived, where each piece of evidence was recovered, and how the evidence was treated.
Police officers who responded to the crime scenes were asked whether they had seen either Mr. Malvo or the Chevy Caprice nearby upon their arrival. None of them said they had seen either Mr. Malvo or the car.
Through it all, Mr. Malvo sat at the far corner of the defense table in his green prison jumpsuit. Sometimes he seemed engaged in the questioning, but at other times he leaned his head on his folded arms.
If the juvenile and domestic court judge determines that prosecutors have demonstrated probable cause, Mr. Malvo will be tried in circuit court as an adult, where he would face the death penalty if convicted in Mrs. Franklin's death.
Mr. Malvo and Mr. Muhammad, 42, have been accused of shooting 18 persons, killing 13 and wounding five in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia and the District.
Mr. Muhammad, who also faces the death penalty if convicted of capital murder in the slaying of Mr. Meyers, is scheduled to go on trial in October in neighboring Prince William County.
Mr. Malvo is facing two counts of capital murder related to Mrs. Franklin's slaying under two separate Virginia statutes.
One count allows the death penalty when a person commits more than one murder in a three-year period. That means prosecutors must present evidence of two different shootings at the hearing.
A second count allows the death penalty under Virginia's new anti-terrorism statute, which passed the legislature in response to the September 11 attacks.
Under that law, prosecutors would not have to prove multiple murders, nor would they have to show that Mr. Malvo was the triggerman in the Oct. 14 shooting. But they would have to demonstrate that the crime resulted in either an attempt to intimidate the general population or coerce government policy.


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