- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 4, 2003

KINGSTON, Jamaica — The mother of teenage sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo has refused to testify in the murder case of John Allen Muhammad unless she is allowed to meet with her son.

Una James, 38, was subpoenaed by prosecutors to testify in Mr. Muhammad’s trial in Virginia Beach. She was scheduled to fly from her native Jamaica on Sunday, but refused at the last minute, saying she hadn’t received assurances she could see her son, whose murder trial begins Monday in Chesapeake, Va.

“Why is it that America says it stands for family first?” Miss James told CVM television station in a broadcast aired Monday. “If that was an American child, would he be without his mother by his side? Is that justice?”

Miss James, who was deported to Jamaica in December, said she doesn’t have an attorney and expressed concern about what might happen to her if she traveled to the United States without legal representation.

Miss James added that she didn’t see the point in returning to Jamaica after testifying in the Muhammad trial only to be summoned again for her son’s.

It was not clear when Miss James was subpoenaed or if a future trip is being planned. Virginia prosecutors did not return calls seeking comment.

U.S. consular officials this weekend denied Miss James a visa to attend the Muhammad trial, but Virginia authorities and the U.S. Homeland Security Department arranged for her transportation with an escort, U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Orna Blum said.

Miss James later met inside with waiting U.S. officials for about 10 minutes before leaving the airport in a taxi without further explanation.

When reached on her cellular telephone Monday, Miss James refused to comment, saying she wasn’t speaking with the U.S. media.

In a June interview with Jamaican television, Miss James lashed out at U.S. authorities, saying she warned them that Mr. Muhammad had been a bad influence on her son before the shootings. U.S. authorities have disputed her claim.

Mr. Malvo, 18, and Mr. Muhammad, 42, are accused of committing 22 shootings that killed 15 persons in Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Washington, D.C., last year.

Prosecutors have said the three-week shooting spree was part of a scheme to extort $10 million from the government. Both could face the death penalty if convicted.

In 1998, Miss James and her son moved from Jamaica to Antigua, where they met Mr. Muhammad. Investigators believe she bought identification papers from Mr. Muhammad and entered the United States in late 2000 while her son stayed behind with Mr. Muhammad.

Mr. Malvo came to the United States bearing a false passport that identified him as Mr. Muhammad’s son, according to Antiguan officials.

He joined his mother in Fort Myers, Fla., but ran away in October 2001 to join Mr. Muhammad in Bellingham, Wash., where they lived at a homeless shelter as father and son.

In September, Miss James said she asked Bellingham police to help her get her son back. During the investigation, police said Mr. Malvo’s comments indicated he and his mother were in the country illegally and officers summoned the Border Patrol, which arrested the mother and son and then released them on $1,500 bail.

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