- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 16, 2005

Convicted snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were indicted yesterday on six counts of murder in Montgomery County.

Each is charged with killing six persons in the county from Oct. 2 to Oct. 22, 2002, including four who were fatally shot within a three-hour span Oct. 3.

Prosecutors say if convicted, Muhammad could get the death penalty while Malvo, who was 17 at the time of the shootings, faces six consecutive life sentences.

Ten persons were killed and three were wounded during the shootings that terrorized metropolitan Washington and involved police from the District, Maryland and Virginia on a regionwide manhunt.

Montgomery County residents lived the longest with the fear that spread across the region. Schools were locked down. Police held dragnets and set up roadblocks. Routine tasks such as pumping gas or cutting the grass suddenly seemed fraught with peril.

The county police department served as headquarters of the massive search with former Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose as the public face of that investigation.

Malvo and Muhammad were arrested Oct. 24 as they slept in their car at a highway rest stop in Frederick County, Md.

The two are charged in the deaths of:

• James D. Martin, 55, killed Oct. 2, 2002, in Wheaton.

• James L. “Sonny” Buchanan, 39, killed Oct. 3 in Rockville.

• Premkumar A. Walekar, 54, killed Oct. 3 in Aspen Hill.

• Sarah Ramos, 34, killed Oct. 3 in Silver Spring.

• Lori Lewis Rivera, 25, killed Oct. 3 in Kensington.

• Conrad E. Johnson, 35, killed Oct. 22 in Silver Spring.

Malvo, 20, is serving a life sentence in Virginia for one of the sniper shootings and has pleaded guilty to two other attacks in Virginia.

Muhammad, 44, was sentenced in Virginia to death in one of the other cases. Malvo was transferred to Maryland last month.

Muhammad has challenged his extradition from Virginia. Maryland has agreed to transfer the men back to Virginia after their trials.

It is “imperative” that Malvo after the trials in Virginia — in case those convictions are overturned on appeal, Montgomery County State’s Attorney Douglas F. Gansler said.

“It’s always been argued that they should be tried under a different set of laws and facts to insure the safety of the community,” he said.

Prosecutors in Maryland went ahead with the indictment while Muhammad’s challenge was processed in Virginia, he said.

“We wanted to make sure that didn’t delay our ability to go forward,” Mr. Gansler said.

It doesn’t matter whether Muhammad is held in Virginia or Maryland for now, as long as he comes to Maryland by the time the trial starts, Mr. Gansler said.

The trial will be scheduled within 180 days unless Muhammad waives his right to a speedy trial, and his transfer will probably occur within the next two months, he said.

Mr. Gansler said his office was intimately involved in the sniper task force’s investigation nearly three years ago and are ready to present their case in court.

Mr. Gansler also has disagreed with complaints that the Montgomery cases could be costly.

“Nobody’s taxes are going to go up because of this case,” he said last month.

Yesterday’s indictments mean Malvo’s preliminary hearing scheduled for next Friday will not be held.

Associated Press writer Brian Westley in Washington contributed to this report.

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