- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 9, 2006

Convicted sniper Lee Boyd Malvo was sentenced yesterday to life in prison for six murders in Montgomery County, part of a three-week string of shootings that terrorized the Washington area in 2002.

The trial in Montgomery County Circuit Court included Malvo’s chilling insider account of those shootings, as well as others across the country with accomplice and one-time mentor John Allen Muhammad.

In a brief statement, a remorseful Malvo, 21, said he was a changed person from the impressionable teenager who killed at Muhammad’s command. His voice breaking at times, Malvo said he could never forgive himself.

“I’m truly sorry, grieved and ashamed for what I’ve done,” Malvo said.

Despite the contrition and Malvo’s cooperation with authorities in their case against Muhammad, Circuit Judge James Ryan gave Malvo six consecutive life sentences without parole, the stiffest penalty possible.

“You could have been somebody different. You could have been better,” Judge Ryan said. “What you are, however, is a convicted murderer.”

Malvo pleaded guilty in October to the murders in Montgomery County, where the series of 13 shootings began and ended in October 2002.

It is unlikely, however, that Malvo will ever serve time in a Maryland prison. He already had been sentenced to life in prison in Virginia for sniper shootings there and was sent to Maryland for a new trial on the condition he be returned after his case ended. That could happen within the next several days, said Darren Popkin, Montgomery County’s chief deputy sheriff.

Malvo testified in May against Muhammad, who was convicted of the same six Montgomery County murders and sentenced to life in prison. Malvo detailed the genesis of the sniper shootings, their killing methods and Muhammad’s grandiose plans for much greater carnage.

He also confronted Muhammad, his one-time father figure. Malvo said Muhammad had manipulated him, turning the then 17-year-old into a “monster.” Muhammad was previously sentenced to death in Virginia.

Malvo’s attorneys described him as an intelligent young man who came to realize the poisonous sway Muhammad held over him. Prosecutors agreed, noting that Malvo had reached out to them earlier this year, offering to confess and help with their case against Muhammad. But they still asked Judge Ryan for the six consecutive terms.

During yesterday’s sentencing, Malvo singled out two shootings that troubled him most. He said he was “haunted” by thoughts of the two sons of Conrad E. Johnson, a Ride On bus driver shot by Malvo on Oct. 22, 2002, the last of the killings. He also spoke of the pain suffered by Iran Brown, a 13-year-old student, whom Malvo wounded Oct. 7, 2002, at Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie.

“It is pure folly for me to think that they or anyone can forgive me for taking the lives of their loved ones,” Malvo said.

Mr. Johnson’s mother, however, said she had overcome her hate for Malvo, thinking he had changed after being removed from Muhammad’s control.

“I cannot go on hating you; that won’t bring Conrad back. You’ve already destroyed your life,” said Sonia Wills, staring directly at Malvo, who dropped his head and wept.

Along with Mr. Johnson, Malvo was sentenced for the deaths of James D. Martin, Premkumar A. Walekar, James L. “Sonny” Buchanan, Sarah Ramos and Lori Lewis-Rivera.

Malvo and Muhammad are either suspects or charged in shootings in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Washington state. They also are linked to unsolved killings in Florida and Texas.

Malvo reportedly confessed to a shooting in California, but investigators have not been able to match that claim to an actual incident.

Last month, Malvo told investigators in Arizona that he and Muhammad were responsible for the unsolved 2002 shooting of a man on a golf course in Tucson. Malvo’s attorney, William Brennan, said they had contact recently with another jurisdiction that he did not name.

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