Malvo is tied to 3 killings, prosecutors say


A view of the preliminary hearing of 17-year-old sniper suspect John Lee Malvo, right, in Fairfax, Va., Tuesday is seen in this artist's rendering. From left, Todd Petit, attorney and legal guardian for Malvo, Judge Charles Maxfield, Defense Attorney Tom Walsh, and Malvo. The police officer, upper right, is unidentified.

The Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 at 1:57 a.m.
FAIRFAX, Va. - Prosecutors looking to bring a death penalty case against 17-year-old sniper suspect John Lee Malvo said Tuesday that fingerprints on the murder weapon and other evidence link him to three slayings and a fourth attack that left a man critically wounded.
Prosecutor Robert Horan Jr. said Malvo contacted police four times - in two notes and two phone calls - trying to extort more than $10 million in exchange for stopping the attacks in the Washington area this past fall.
"All of this was an attempt to intimidate the government to pay in excess of $10 million for these defendants and this defendant in particular to stop the shooting," Horan said at a juvenile court hearing to determine whether Malvo will be tried as an adult and possibly face the death penalty.
The extortion allegation is a key element of a new Virginia anti-terrorism law that allows the death penalty for killers convicted of trying to intimidate the public or coerce government policy.
Authorities have previously said Malvo's prints were found on the rifle, but Horan did not identify the suspected triggerman. The hearing is expected to continue today.
Malvo and John Allen Muhammad, 42, are accused of shooting 18 people, killing 13 and wounding five in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., last year. They are being tried first in Virginia, Malvo in Fairfax County and Muhammad in nearby Prince William County.
Defense attorneys for Malvo did not make an opening statement during the hearing, which included tearful testimony from a man who recalled the splatter of blood against his cheek as his wife, FBI analyst and former Gainesville resident Linda Franklin, was gunned down Oct. 14.
Malvo faces two counts of capital murder in that slaying.
One count allows the death penalty for a suspect who commits multiple murders in a three-year period. The second falls under the anti-terrorism statute, passed after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Horan said prosecutors will use fingerprints found on the sniper rifle to link Malvo to four shootings: Franklin, the Oct. 9 slaying of Dean Meyers in Prince William County, the Oct. 22 slaying of Montgomery County, Md., bus driver Conrad Johnson and the Oct. 19 shooting of a man near an Ashland restaurant.
Horan said Malvo's fingerprints were on a package of raisins found at the scene of the Ashland shooting, not far from where police recovered a note from the snipers that warned: "Your children are not safe anywhere at any time."
A second note, found near the scene of the bus driver's slaying, reportedly demanded $10 million, as did the note found in Ashland.
The first witness was William Franklin, who fought back tears as he recounted his wife's death in the parking lot of a Home Depot store. The two had been putting packages into their car when Linda Franklin was shot.
"I heard a noise and felt something hit me on the side of my face," her husband said. Though he did not know it at the time, he said, "it was her blood."
"I went to her side to see if there was anything I could do, and there wasn't," Franklin said. "She had been shot through the head."
Franklin said he did not see a blue Chevrolet Caprice, the type of car Malvo and Muhammad were arrested in 10 days later at a Maryland rest stop.
Malvo allegedly confessed to investigators in November. But Horan said nothing about it and defense lawyers have indicated they will seek to suppress any incriminating statements Malvo may have made because he did not have an attorney with him.
Muhammad is scheduled to go on trial in October in Prince William County for the slaying of Meyers, 53, in Manassas. He also could face the death penalty if convicted.

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