- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 24, 2006

4:10 p.m.

Convicted sniper mastermind John Allen Muhammad clashed with his former accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, during a rambling cross-examination today in a Rockville courtroom.

Muhammad, who is acting as his own lawyer in the trial, repeatedly focused on the state of Malvo’s mental health.

“Do you remember experts stating that Malvo has a serious behavior problem with wanting to be important?” Muhammad asked, referring to Malvo’s 2003 insanity plea in Virginia for one of the killings.

Malvo, 21, concluded his testimony today after taking the stand yesterday against Muhammad — on trial in a second capital murder case for the 2002 shootings.

Muhammad, who has no legal training, cross-examined Malvo for 45 minutes yesterday before resuming questioning of his former protege for four hours today.

The 45-year-old Muhammad skipped from topic to topic and from crime to crime, going back over minor details of each crime scene.

Muhammad faces the death penalty in six fatal Montgomery County sniper attacks, part of a three-week shooting spree that killed 10 persons in the Washington area.

Malvo, the prosecution’s final witness, yesterday called his former father figure “a coward” and testified that Muhammad pulled the trigger in 10 of the 13 shootings.

“I was there. He was there. And I know what we both did,” Malvo said today.

Montgomery County State’s Attorney Katherine Winfree asked Malvo why he said Muhammad treated him differently from his own children.

“Mr. Muhammad did not use any of his children to murder innocent people,” Malvo said.

Muhammad also called Malvo “son” several times despite a warning from the court not to do so. When Malvo was 15, Muhammad took the boy under his wing and then trained him to be a sniper.

Muhammad asked Malvo to restate portions of his testimony about where shooting victims were and where the sniper’s vehicle was located and to identify tools used by the snipers, such as two-way radios.

Malvo, wearing the same dark blue jacket and white button-down shirt as yesterday, spoke in measured tones but at times defied Muhammad.

Muhammad asked Malvo why he had said that the sniper pair had worked out an arrangement in which Malvo would say he did the shootings.

“So basically we was planning to get caught?” Muhammad said.

“You did the planning, Mr. Muhammad,” Malvo replied.

Several times, Muhammad asked Circuit Judge James L. Ryan to tell Malvo to answer “yes” or “no” to his questions.

At other times, Muhammad has tried to lure Malvo into contradicting himself, focusing on the young man’s statements to police in 2002 that he pulled the trigger in all the shootings.

Malvo said yesterday and today that he lied to police because at the time he wanted to die for Muhammad.

“Mr. Malvo, do you know what selective memory is?” Muhammad asked him.

Ms. Winfree objected repeatedly to Muhammad’s questions.

“Mr. Muhammad is trying to mislead this man,” she said.

Muhammad has clashed several times today with Ms. Winfree.

“Your honor, I object to her making statements,” Muhammad said, drawing laughter from the packed courtroom.

Judge Ryan then reprimanded those in the courtroom, saying it is “too serious to find humor in.”

Muhammad was convicted and sentenced to death in 2003 for a sniper killing in Virginia. Malvo was convicted of a different murder, although a Chesapeake, Va., jury gave the younger shooter a sentence of life without parole.

Authorities say Muhammad’s second trial will provide insurance in case his Virginia conviction is overturned.

Related article:

Malvo calls Muhammad a ‘coward’

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