- The Washington Times - Friday, November 21, 2003

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo laughed repeatedly during a police interrogation as he described several shootings and said “a head shot is best” when trying to down a human target.

Speaking excitedly on a 2-hour-long audio recording that was played at his murder trial yesterday, Mr. Malvo also said he never felt sorry for any sniper victim and would kill again if given the chance.

“It’s business to me,” he told detectives during a Nov. 7, 2002, interrogation. “This is business.”

Minutes later, Mr. Malvo whistled the Christmas carol “Joy to the World” during a brief lull in the questioning.

Mr. Malvo, 18, is charged with the Oct. 14, 2002, fatal shooting of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, 47, in a parking lot of a Home Depot in Falls Church. As in John Allen Muhammad’s trial, prosecutors want to link Mr. Malvo to other killings to get a capital murder conviction.

Yesterday was the second time the jury heard an audio recording of Mr. Malvo confessing to an active role in the October 2002 sniper rampage that left 10 dead and three wounded in the Washington area. “I intended to kill them all,” he said in the first tape, which was played for jurors earlier in the week.

Mr. Malvo sounded more animated and light-hearted in the tape played yesterday, which was recorded without his knowledge by Fairfax County police. Both audio recordings were taped Nov. 7, 2002, during a daylong interview by FBI agents and police from Fairfax and Prince William counties.

In both recordings, Mr. Malvo acknowledged that the sniper attacks were designed to extort $10 million in ransom from the federal government.

Fairfax County homicide Detective June Boyle began interviewing Mr. Malvo at 4 p.m. on Nov. 7, 2002, after federal charges were dropped and he was transferred to Virginia from Maryland.

Detective Boyle told jurors yesterday that she spent the first hour of the interview trying “to form a rapport with him, trying to let him relax.” When Detective Boyle brought up the Franklin shooting, she asked Mr. Malvo whether he knew the distance of the shot.

“I know the distance. This isn’t a paid assassination. This is strategy,” Detective Boyle recalled Mr. Malvo saying. “You don’t just walk into battle hoping to win.”

Detective Boyle then asked Mr. Malvo if he knew where Mrs. Franklin was hit by the bullet that killed her.

“He laughed and pointed here, right here,” Detective Boyle told jurors, pointing to the right side of her forehead.

On the audio recording, Mr. Malvo laughed when he talked about shooting Mrs. Franklin in the head. “That’s what I was aiming for,” he told police investigators.

He also said on the tape that the morning after he shot Mrs. Franklin, he returned to the Home Depot so he could watch police work the crime scene.

“Like in all your roadblocks, I leave and get back inside the roadblock,” Mr. Malvo said on the recording.

Detective Boyle said when she asked Mr. Malvo about the Oct. 9, 2002, fatal shooting of Dean Harold Meyers, 53, at a gas station in Manassas, Mr. Malvo again laughed and said, “He was hit good. Dead immediately.”

Muhammad, 42, was convicted Monday in the Meyers shooting.

Asked whether he experienced any stress during the sniper attacks, Detective Boyle said Mr. Malvo answered, “No. Why stress?”

Detective Boyle also said Mr. Malvo told her “a head shot is best,” but that he didn’t shoot 13-year-old Iran Brown in the head because “there were other school kids around.” Iran was shot and wounded Oct. 7, 2002, outside Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie.

On the tape, Mr. Malvo also told investigators that the shootings were carefully planned, even to the point of selecting targets in places with white vans nearby. He said they knew police and the public were on the lookout for a sniper suspect driving a white van.

“You did what we wanted you to do,” Mr. Malvo said on the tape. “Once you locked onto a vehicle, we made sure that vehicle was there. Made sure we were around them. People are just gonna lock onto them.”

The young murder suspect refused to tell investigators whether most of the shootings were done in or outside of the 1990 blue Chevrolet Caprice, which prosecutors say was outfitted as “a killing machine.”

“That’s for you to figure out,” he said on the tape. He later bragged, “I can hit you in the head from the car or I can hit you in the head from outside.”

Court recessed early yesterday and defense attorneys did not cross-examine Detective Boyle.

At a news conference after court was adjourned for the weekend, defense attorney Craig S. Cooley said that Mr. Malvo had been under Muhammad’s influence.

The defense plans to argue that Mr. Malvo is not guilty by reason of insanity because he was brainwashed by Muhammad to be a killer.

Prosecutors yesterday also called as a witness an FBI forensics examiner who testified that Mr. Malvo’s DNA was found on the Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle linked to the shootings and at the scenes of two of the sniper attacks.

The probability of someone other than Mr. Malvo matching the DNA on the butt of the rifle was 1 in 690 billion among blacks and 1 in 3.6 trillion among whites, the forensic examiner said.

“It would be my opinion that Mr. Malvo is the source,” FBI forensics examiner Brendan Shea told jurors.

Mr. Shea testified that Mr. Malvo’s DNA matched that found on the Ziploc bag containing a ransom note left at the scene of the Oct. 19, 2002, shooting that wounded Jeffrey Hopper, 37, of Melbourne, Fla., outside a Ponderosa steakhouse in Ashland, Va.

Mr. Malvo’s DNA also matched that found on another Ziploc bag and ransom note left at the scene of the Oct. 22, 2002, fatal shooting of Ride On bus driver Conrad E. Johnson, 35, in Aspen Hill. He also matched DNA on a bag of Dole Cinnaraisins that police found near the note in Aspen Hill, Mr. Shea told jurors.


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