- The Washington Times - Friday, September 24, 2004

Convicted teenage sniper Lee Boyd Malvo plans to drop all appeals of his conviction and life sentence for one of 10 killings in October 2002 and admit guilt in a second slaying, his attorney said yesterday.

A plea hearing is scheduled for Oct. 26 in Spotsylvania County Circuit Court, where Malvo, 19, is charged with capital murder in the Oct. 11, 2002, killing of Kenneth Bridges.

Malvo’s attorney, Michael Arif, said Malvo will plead guilty and accept a sentence of life in prison. The plea deal would eliminate a death sentence in that case.

Because Malvo will be accepting a sentence of life in prison without parole, he will drop all appeals of his conviction last year for the murder of Linda Franklin in Fairfax County. The jury in that case sentenced him to life in prison, sparing him the death penalty.

Malvo, who was 17 at the time of the killings, is ready to accept a lifetime in prison.

“He gave us instructions to get this done as quickly as possible,” Mr. Arif said. “He knows he’s not going anywhere.”

For a brief period, Mr. Arif said, Malvo held on to a “fantasy” hope that if he could talk to his partner in the sniper spree, John Allen Muhammad, he could convince Muhammad to tell the truth about the killings and minimize Malvo’s responsibility so Malvo could seek a reduced sentence.

But Mr. Arif said Malvo now realizes that won’t happen.

Malvo, who initially told police he was the triggerman in nearly all of the killings, recanted that confession and said Muhammad was the triggerman in all but one.

His attorneys said Malvo had been brainwashed by Muhammad as part of an insanity defense and that Muhammad was the driving force behind the sniper spree.

Malvo has not officially signed a plea deal, but Mr. Arif expects him to do so Monday.

Mr. Arif said the plea deal is good for his client because it eliminates one more potential death penalty that Malvo faces.

But Malvo still is at risk of a death penalty in other cases.

Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul B. Ebert, who obtained a death sentence for Muhammad, has said he will pursue the death penalty against Malvo if the U.S. Supreme Court rules this fall that the execution of persons who were 16 and 17 years old at the time of their crimes is constitutional.

Malvo also could face a death penalty in Alabama and Louisiana, where he faces murder charges for killings in the months preceding the October 2002 sniper spree in the Washington area that left 10 persons dead.

Spotsylvania County Commonwealth’s Attorney William Neely was unavailable for comment yesterday.

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