- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 13, 2003

Attorneys for sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo say they will challenge a recent change in jury selection that experts say will make it tougher for the teenage suspect to find poor, less-educated, minority jurors who may be more sympathetic.
Earlier this year, the court clerk in Fairfax County, where Mr. Malvo, 18, will be tried, began using voter registration lists as the sole source of potential jurors. Before that, the county used both voter rolls and motor vehicle records.
Court Clerk John T. Frey said he made the change to improve efficiency and save money. The motor vehicle lists are often outdated and include many people who cannot serve as jurors, such as noncitizens and felons, he said.
But the teenager's attorneys said the voter rolls do not reflect the county's ethnic and racial diversity, denying Mr. Malvo, who is black, a jury of his peers.
"We have a screwed-up jury pool in this state already," Michael Arif said.
Fairfax County prosecutor Robert F. Horan Jr. said he prefers selecting jurors from voter rolls. "If people show enough interest to vote, then you know they've got some interest in the community," he said.
The teenager and the man accused of being his accomplice, John Allen Muhammad, 42, have been linked to 20 shootings, including 13 deaths, in Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama and the District. Both potentially face the death penalty. Mr. Malvo's trial is set for Nov. 10.
Fairfax County, with a population of about 1 million, has become increasingly diverse as it has grown. About 70 percent of the population is white, 13 percent Asian and 9 percent black.
Jury consultant Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, who helped the defense pick the jury in the O.J. Simpson murder case, said voter rolls have fewer minorities and generally have people with a higher socioeconomic status and more education.
"We know that very typically a pro-defense juror is most often from a lower socioeconomic status and is likely to have less education," she said.
Mr. Muhammad is scheduled for trial in October in neighboring Prince William County. Jurors are selected from voter rolls in that county. His attorney has not said if he will bring a similar challenge.

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