- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 24, 2003

Four days after his capture, sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo told federal prison guards he shot a 13-year-old boy to upset the head of the sniper investigation and had intended to shoot many other students that day, two guards testified at yesterday’s pretrial hearing in Fairfax County.

Capt. Joseph Stracke and Cpl. Wayne Davis said Mr. Malvo targeted several other people, along with students at Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie, where Iran Brown was shot Oct. 7. The other targets, who were not shot, were a child, a pregnant woman and a police officer, the guards said Mr. Malvo told them.

Mr. Malvo boasted of his shootings, exaggerating at times, and said he was motivated by the desire for money and a hatred of white people, the guards said.

Capt. Stracke and Cpl. Davis spoke with Mr. Malvo, then 17, during his stay at SuperMax, the federal prison in Baltimore, where he was brought Oct. 24, two days after his capture at a rest stop near Frederick, Md.

Most of Mr. Malvo’s comments about the Oct. 2-22 sniper shootings were made Oct 26.

Mr. Malvo’s attorneys are seeking to have the guards’ testimony suppressed at trial. They argue that the guards are law-enforcement officers who conducted an interrogation despite Mr. Malvo’s previous invocation of his right to remain silent.

The guards have said Mr. Malvo volunteered his information.

Fairfax Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush did not rule on the defense motion.

“This entire hearing has been a revelation to me,” she said, promising a ruling by the end of August.

People in the courtroom sat transfixed as Capt. Stracke first related what Mr. Malvo told him after Mr. Malvo was given a piece of fish from Cpl. Davis’ dinner.

Mr. Malvo first said he had intended to shoot more than one student but that a school bus did not drop off children where he had anticipated at the school.

When Capt. Stracke asked Mr. Malvo why he had shot a child, Mr. Malvo said, “It was to get Moose upset,” referring to former Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose, who was head of the sniper investigation. “When he’s upset and emotional he can’t think straight. It worked, didn’t it? He was crying on TV.”

Capt. Stracke quoted Mr. Malvo as saying the plan was to shoot a whole busload of students, but the bus pulled in wrong that day. Capt. Stracke also said Mr. Malvo said during an undetermined time when Mr. Malvo and fellow sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad were in Baltimore, Mr. Malvo targeted a pregnant woman in a cemetery with his rifle, but did not pull his trigger because a police helicopter passed overhead.

Mr. Malvo also told Capt. Stracke that he almost shot a Baltimore police officer who was talking to Mr. Muhammad, who was in their 1990 blue Chevrolet Caprice.

Mr. Malvo said he was in a large trash bin with a scope sighted on the police officer’s head, and if anything went wrong he was going to shoot him, Capt. Stracke testified.

The guards said numerous other details were volunteered by Mr. Malvo, who said he did most if not all of the 13 shootings and that Mr. Muhammad, 42, shot two women in Montgomery, Ala., on Sept 21.

Mr. Malvo and Mr. Muhammad have been linked to the 13 sniper shootings in the Washington area last October,10 of them fatal, as well seven other shootings across the country.

Mr. Malvo is to be tried in Chesapeake, Va., in the Oct. 14 shooting of Linda Franklin, 47, at the Falls Church Home Depot. Mr. Muhammad is to be tried in Virginia Beach in the Oct. 9 shooting of Dean Harold Meyers, 53, at a Manassas gas station. Their trials were moved out of Northern Virginia because defense attorneys said unbiased juries could not be found where all residents had been terrified by the shooting spree.

The defense strategy thus far has been to set up an argument for Mr. Malvo being “under the spell” of the older Mr. Muhammad.

Mr. Malvo’s admissions to the shootings, made to a Fairfax County detective in November, already have been allowed by Judge Roush. And a retired military friend of Mr. Muhammad’s told investigators that Mr. Malvo was a gifted shooter, far more skilled than Mr. Muhammad, according to Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert F. Horan.

Cpl. Davis said Mr. Malvo spoke about receiving orders from Mr. Muhammad, whom Mr. Malvo called his father. Cpl. Davis asked Mr. Malvo whether Mr. Muhammad brainwashed or molested him. Mr. Malvo answered no to both questions.

Mr. Horan became animated early in the hearing when defense attorney Craig S. Cooley implied that the defense has not been supplied with all exculpatory evidence available.

Mr. Horan took advantage of the moment to knock the “under the spell” theory. He noted the thousands of pages of evidence and said, “Those pages are replete with statements that this was a partnership. [Mr. Malvo] said they were a team. That’s team. Team, team, team,” he said, his voice raised and quavering.

“There is never a whiff of a suggestion that Muhammad was ordering him to do what he didn’t want to do,” Mr. Horan said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide