- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2003

A Fairfax County judge set a Nov. 10 trial date yesterday for sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo over the objections of the teen's defense team, who insisted they need more time to prepare.
"I am not going to be ready by Nov. 10," said Michael Arif, Mr. Malvo's lead attorney. "It is an impossible date. It is not a realistic date."
Mr. Malvo's defense team waived the right to a speedy trial and asked Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush for a trial date next February, citing the amount of evidence in the case and the number of witnesses who have to be located from around and outside the United States.
Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said the defense had already had two months to prepare and called for the trial to begin in June or mid-September at the latest.
He said the state had the burden of examining 50,000 to 70,000 pieces of information, mostly calls to the sniper tip line, for potential exculpatory evidence to provide to the defense team.
"That's going to be the major chore," Mr. Horan said. "I believe we're going to be able to wade through that and provide that to the defense by March 1."
But Judge Roush said she thought the November trial date would "give everyone plenty of time."
Mr. Arif took exception to Judge Roush's decision, saying the trial for Mr. Malvo's companion, John Allen Muhammad, was scheduled to begin Oct. 14 in Prince William County. He said that if the trials overlap, there will be a "caravan of evidence" traveling back and forth on Interstate 66 between Mr. Malvo's trial in Fairfax and Mr. Muhammad's trial in Manassas.
Mr. Muhammad, 42, is charged with capital murder in the killing of Dean Harold Meyers at a Manassas gas station Oct. 9.
Mr. Malvo faces capital murder charges in the Oct. 14 shooting of FBI analyst Linda Franklin outside the Home Depot store in Falls Church. Mrs. Franklin was the ninth victim in the sniper attacks that killed 10 and wounded three in Maryland, Virginia and the District in October.
In another ruling yesterday, Judge Roush relieved Todd G. Petit of his role as Mr. Malvo's guardian effective Feb. 18, the teen's 18th birthday. She also appointed Richmond-based lawyer Craig Cooley as a co-counsel for the defense.
Mr. Cooley teaches capital murder litigation at the University of Richmond law school and has handled about 20 death-penalty trials.
Mr. Malvo appeared attentive during the half-hour hearing and wore a new, closely cropped haircut. Mr. Arif said the trim was the teen's idea.
He declined to speak about Mr. Malvo's state of mind, but said Mr. Malvo, at one time a vegetarian, has begun eating meat since suffering cramps in his legs.
"The doctor suggested he get more protein," Mr. Arif said, adding that Mr. Malvo had gained 7 pounds.
Mr. Malvo had been picking through the jail meals for vegetables and at one time requested a vegetarian loaf typically used as punishment for unruly inmates.
Mr. Arif said that Mr. Malvo ate meat when he lived with his mother, and that being a vegetarian was "something Muhammad laid on him."
He also explained that Mr. Malvo's real name, as it appears on his Jamaican birth certificate, is Lee Boyd Malvo, and that the alias John Lee Malvo, by which the teen was known at the time of his arrest, was another of Mr. Muhammad's inventions.
Also yesterday, the handgun found near a fatal shooting Sept. 21 in Montgomery, Ala., has been linked by ballistics tests to two earlier crimes in Maryland, one already connected to the sniper suspects.
Police Chief John Wilson said the test results on the .22 caliber revolver provide significant evidence tying the sniper suspects to the Montgomery shooting.
"Now they can't deny that they were here," Chief Wilson said yesterday.
Mr. Muhammad and Mr. Malvo have been charged with capital murder in the shooting in the parking lot of a Montgomery liquor store that killed employee Claudine Parker and injured co-worker Kellie Adams, who is recovering from a gunshot wound to the neck.
Chief Wilson confirmed that the ballistics evidence links the handgun found in Montgomery to a shooting Sept. 5 in Clinton, which had been linked to the sniper suspects by a computer stolen during the crime. He said it also linked the gun to a shooting Sept. 15 in Brandywine, which had not had evidence tying it to the two suspects.
Federal agents and authorities in Prince George's County have declined to comment on the test results.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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