- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 9, 2003

Attorneys for sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo will mount an insanity defense at his murder trial next month, arguing that he was a victim of “indoctrination” by older suspect John Allen Muhammad.

Defense attorney Craig S. Cooley said yesterday the basis for the insanity defense comes from mental health experts not appointed by the court. Mr. Cooley said Mr. Malvo was so brainwashed by Mr. Muhammad that he didn’t know right from wrong.

“Indoctrination, or what lay people call brainwashing, is a form of mental illness,” Mr. Cooley said after yesterday’s hearing. “This case is so extraordinary and the degree of indoctrination is so severe that we would be remiss in our responsibilities if we did not bring it to the court’s attention.”

A court-appointed psychiatrist has met with Mr. Malvo more than a dozen times. But, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr., who is prosecuting the case, said there is nothing in the expert’s report that points to insanity.

Mr. Horan said even if Mr. Malvo was brainwashed, that does not qualify him as insane.

“That’s not a mental illness that’s in the book. That’s one that’s invented,” he said. “Apparently it’s a late-blooming insanity.”

Mr. Malvo, 18, is set to go on trial Nov. 10 in the Oct. 14, 2002, fatal shooting of FBI analyst Linda Franklin outside a Home Depot in Falls Church. Mrs. Franklin was one of 13 persons who were shot, 10 fatally, during a three-week spree in the Washington metropolitan area last October.

Mr. Muhammad, 42, goes on trial Tuesday in the Oct. 9, 2002, fatal shooting of Dean H. Meyers outside a gas station in Manassas.

Both trials were moved 200 miles to southeastern Virginia.

Mr. Muhammad’s attorneys have argued that Mr. Malvo was the triggerman, while Mr. Malvo’s defense team has contended that the teenager was acting under the influence of the older man.

If convicted, both defendants could be sentenced to death.

Meanwhile, in Prince William County yesterday, Mr. >Muhammad refused, for the second consecutive day, to submit to psychological analysis by the prosecution’s psychiatrist, Park Dietz. As a result, Mr. Muhammad’s attorneys cannot use any evidence gleaned from Mr. Muhammad’s interviews with their own psychiatrist.

>Mr. Horan wanted Dr. Dietz to interview Mr. Malvo. But, Fairfax County Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush ordered Mr. Horan to find a different mental health expert to avoid conflict of interest.

Mr. Cooley said the “insanity” strategy had been long in the making. The defense first mentioned in June that Mr. Malvo was under Mr. Muhammad’s spell during the shootings.

They argue that Mr. Muhammad, a U.S. Army veteran of the first Persian Gulf war who lost his three children in a divorce-custody battle, had taken the young and impressionable Mr. Malvo under his wing and trained him to obey his every command.

Mr. Muhammad then used his control to direct Mr. Malvo to carry out the shootings, they contend.

In recent months, Mr. Malvo’s attorneys have said that the young Jamaican has undergone a “transformation,” in the year that he hasn’t seen or talked to Mr. Muhammad.

In court papers filed Wednesday, Mr. Malvo’s attorneys argue that their client may have lied about his role in the shootings as part of a planned strategy to protect Mr. Muhammad.

The motion included new details of the Nov. 7 questioning of Mr. Malvo, who was then 17. The new information shows that Mr. Malvo may have believed that he would serve only seven years in jail if he was convicted in the shootings.

When Fairfax County Detective June Boyle asked him if he wanted to change his story, Mr. Malvo told her that if he did, authorities would “get rid of [Muhammad] as fast as possible.”

During that questioning, Mr. Malvo referred to Mr. Muhammad as his dad, his father, and the “weight of the world.”

“The world is your dad,” Detective Boyle said. “Might as well protect him,” Mr. Malvo responded.

Mr. Malvo also told federal prison guards in Baltimore, just days after his Oct. 24 capture, that he carried out some of the shootings.

In their motion, Mr. Cooley and Michael S. Arif again asked Judge Roush to exclude from trial all portions of that questioning, during which Mr. Malvo also laughed and joked about shooting Mrs. Franklin.

The defense attorneys said they have made several attempts to obtain enhanced audio of the inaudible portion of that interview, but they still do not have a fully audible recording or a complete transcript.

Judge Roush ordered Mr. Horan to ask Detective Boyle to hand over her notes of that portion of the interview.


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