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Federal prison deal for Malvo opposed

Va. prosecutors renew objections to plea whereby sniper would admit to other killings

By Andrea F. Siegel

Sun reporter

June 20, 2006

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The Virginia prosecutors of snipers Lee Boyd Malvo and John Allen Muhammad say they oppose allowing Malvo to serve his life sentence in a federal prison as part of any far-reaching plea agreement, as has been suggested in recent months.

Muhammad, 45, on death row in Virginia for a sniper murder, was convicted in May of six fatal sniper shootings in Montgomery County in 2002. He received six life terms without parole.

Malvo, 21, serving multiple life sentences for Virginia sniper shootings, had not spoken publicly about the crimes until Muhammad's trial. But he detailed sniper shootings to investigators, first when arrested in 2002 and more recently before Muhammad's trial, sometimes inconsistently.

The duo were believed to have shot 13 people, 10 fatally, during October 2002 in the Washington, D.C., area. Police believe that rampage was preceded by shootings, some fatal, from Washington state through the South.

Virginia prosecutors objected last fall when told that Malvo might admit to other slayings in exchange for leaving Virginia's Red Onion State Prison for a federal penitentiary.

"Not just him, but anybody - they should not be able to select the prison where they spend the rest of their life," Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert said.

"I had a call from somebody in the Virginia attorney general's office who said, was I aware that an attempt was being made to have Malvo serve his time elsewhere as a part of some global plea," Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert Horan Jr. said.

The idea, which could efficiently close open cases and was floated by Montgomery County prosecutors, fizzled. It was raised anew with the election of Tim Kaine as Virginia governor in November, said a source who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue. Because Malvo is a Virginia prisoner, Virginia's governor would have to agree.

"The ... opposition of the two prosecutors that did handle these two cases in Virginia will have some bearing on this idea," said Kevin Hall, Kaine's spokesman.

Washington, D.C. radio station WTOP raised the possibility yesterday that such an arrangement could take place, but the idea's viability could not be confirmed.

Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler declined to comment.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for Muhammad said Muhammad was unaware of such a possibility, and if it remained alive could have used it against Malvo last month.

"The jury should have had an opportunity to hear that ... so that they can assess his credibility," said J. Wyndal Gordon.

Malvo's lawyers did not return telephone calls yesterday.

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com
Sun reporter Matthew Dolan contributed to this article.