- The Washington Times - Friday, September 2, 2005

Convicted snipers Lee Boyd Malvo and John Allen Muhammad will be tried separately next year in the six fatal shootings in Montgomery County during a spree that terrorized the region in October 2002.

Circuit Judge James Ryan set a date of May 1 for Muhammad and Oct. 10 for Malvo, over the objections of prosecutors who wanted to begin the trials much sooner.

Judge Ryan set the relatively late dates because of schedule conflicts and to give defense attorneys time to prepare for what likely will be lengthy cases.

Both are charged with six counts of first-degree murder. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty for Muhammad, but have until Oct. 1 to file a death notice. A juvenile at the time of the shootings, Malvo faces life in prison.

Montgomery County State’s Attorney Douglas F. Gansler had planned to try the two together. But Judge Ryan set separate dates because of scheduling problems with defense attorneys.

Malvo attorney William Brennan said he planned to file a motion to sever the cases, and Mr. Gansler said the cases likely would be separated if Muhammad receives a death notice.

Malvo, 20, appeared by closed-circuit television from the Montgomery County jail, speaking only when the judge asked questions about whether he waived his right to a speedy trial.

Muhammad, 44, did not appear at all.

Each has been convicted of murder in Virginia — Muhammad is on death row and Malvo is serving a life sentence. Mr. Gansler said he wants to try them in Montgomery as insurance in case those cases are overturned.

Both were transferred to Maryland in recent months.

Prosecutors were dismayed that the trial for Malvo potentially could not occur for more than a year, saying defense attorneys had ample access to evidence and should know the case from the massive publicity the sniper shootings received.

The two are accused of killing 10 persons and wounding three in Virginia, Maryland and the District. They also have been linked to shootings in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Washington state.

Virginia agreed to send the pair north for prosecution after Maryland promised to return them when their trials are over.

Louisiana and Alabama also have plans to prosecute Muhammad and Malvo on murder charges.

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