- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Lee Boyd Malvo pleaded guilty yesterday to the six sniper murders in Montgomery County, a deal that might lead to legal conclusion of other shootings in the District, Virginia, Alabama and Louisiana.

Circuit Judge James L. Ryan postponed sentencing until Nov. 9 after public defender William Brennan said time was needed “to reach a global resolution to Mr. Malvo’s legal problems.”

During the 45-minute hearing, Principal Deputy State’s Attorney Katherine Winfree read an eight-page proffer detailing the killings of 13 persons and wounding of seven in Maryland, Virginia, the District, Alabama and Louisiana from Sept. 5 to Oct. 22, 2002.

Wearing a green prison jumpsuit, Malvo, now 21, showed no emotion during the hearing and answered only “yes” or “no” to his attorneys’ questions. The proffer included details from his testimony during the May trial of his partner, John Allen Muhammad, 45, who was convicted of the six Montgomery County murders and sentenced to six life terms. Muhammad is now back in Virginia on death row for killing Dean Harold Meyers, 53, in Manassas.

“Mr. Malvo is making attempts to redeem himself and move forward,” said his other public defender, Timothy Sullivan. “The first step was when he had the courage to testify against the man who taught him to be a killer. He’s going to make the best of what is left of his life.

“This kid was manipulated by a monster,” Mr. Sullivan said.

State’s Attorney Douglas F. Gansler said Malvo probably will be sentenced to six consecutive life terms without a chance for parole. The minimum sentence would be a single life term with a chance for parole.

According to an interstate agreement before the Montgomery trials, Mr. Gansler said Malvo will be returned to Virginia, where he was sentenced to life in 2003 for killing FBI analyst Linda Franklin, 47, on Oct. 14, 2002, in a parking lot outside the Home Depot in Falls Church.

Mr. Gansler said the plea deal could mean Malvo won’t serve his sentence in Virginia. Malvo could plead guilty to the Oct. 3, 2002, shooting of Pascal Charlot, 72, in the District and thus serve a life term in the federal system, which houses D.C. prisoners.

Malvo is “willing to give these families the satisfaction of knowing what happened, how it happened,” Mr. Gansler said of the shootings that have yet to be prosecuted.

But Mr. Gansler said the decision on a plea rests with Virginia authorities, who agreed to let Muhammad and Malvo go temporarily to Montgomery County for new trials.

Kevin Hall, a spokesman for Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, said the governor’s office has not had any recent discussions with Maryland prosecutors on a plea deal for Malvo. The prosecutors who first tried Muhammad and Malvo, Paul B. Ebert in Prince William County and Robert F. Horan Jr. in Fairfax County, were opposed when the idea was proposed a few months ago.

“Their objections were pretty sharp,” Mr. Hall said.

Muhammad was described as the killer in the Montgomery County shootings, most from the trunk of a blue Chevrolet Caprice, firing a .223-caliber rifle through a hole just above the license plate.

The first victim in Montgomery County was James D. Martin, 55, who was shot in the parking lot of Shoppers Food Warehouse in Wheaton on Oct. 2. The next day, the victims were landscaper James L. “Sonny” Buchanan, 39, at Fitzgerald Auto Mall in Rockville; cabdriver Premkumar A. Walekar, 54, at a gas station on Connecticut Avenue in Aspen Hill; Sarah Ramos, 34, at the Leisure World shopping center in Silver Spring; and Lori-Ann Lewis-Rivera, 25, at a gas station in Kensington. The snipers struck elsewhere over the next three weeks until they returned to Montgomery County and killed bus driver Conrad E. Johnson, 35, on Grand Pre Road in Silver Spring on Oct. 22.

Malvo and Muhammad were arrested Oct. 24 in Frederick County, Md.

In all, 10 persons were slain and three wounded in Maryland, Virginia and the District.

The short hearing to formalize Malvo’s Montgomery County plea contrasted with the two days of riveting testimony Malvo gave in May while helping prosecutors win convictions against Muhammad. It was the first insider account of the three-week rampage across the Washington region. The two snipers shot random victims with the high-powered rifle using the beat-up Chevrolet Caprice as cover.

Malvo described the genesis of the plot, saying Muhammad wanted to use it to extort $10 million and wreak havoc on the Washington area. Malvo described how they mapped out shooting sites in advance and worked as a team — one spotting random victims, the other firing.

The young sniper also laid out Muhammad’s grander scheme to shoot up to six persons each day for a month, target school buses and police officers with explosives, and set up a camp in Canada where homeless children would be trained as terrorists.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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