Lawyers for teen-age sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo are scheduled to give Fairfax County, Va., prosecutors a mental health report on their client today, advising prosecutors of the psychological issues they will raise during a sentencing hearing if Malvo is convicted of capital murder.
For months, the defense has said that Malvo, 18, was brainwashed by John Allen Muhammad, 42, and its expert's conclusions are not expected to conflict with that. Together, Malvo and Muhammad are charged in 13 shootings, 10 of them fatal, in a three-week spree last October that terrified the Baltimore-to-Richmond corridor.
Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said he would be surprised if the conclusions were more than about a page.
With the defense preparing to use psychological issues as reasons to spare Malvo's life if the youth is convicted, prosecutors will hire their own expert to evaluate the Jamaican-born youth.
On Wednesday, the defense unsuccessfully asked Fairfax County Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush to seal its report for now, opening it to prosecutors only if there is a conviction.
Craig S. Cooley, one of Malvo's chief defense lawyers, argued that revealing the information today will give prosecutors a heads-up on the defense's sentencing strategy.
Describing it as "a matter of fairness," Cooley contended that the report's contents could influence prosecutors during the first part of the trial - and might not be needed if Malvo is acquitted of capital murder.
But Horan said that without seeing the report, he would not know what kind of mental health expert to hire for the prosecution's evaluation of Malvo. However, he added, he has seen no evidence that Malvo suffered from mental illness, and Malvo has not been in a mental hospital or reported psychiatric problems.
In court this week, Malvo was far more animated than in the past. He appeared to pay close attention to the proceedings and spoke frequently with his lawyers, sometimes smiling, in contrast to the sullen and detached air of most previous hearings.
Cooley said that reflects Malvo's shift away from Muhammad's brainwashing. "We are seeing him revert more to the young man he was before two years of indoctrination by John Muhammad," Cooley said.
But prosecutors say otherwise. In past hearings, Horan described Malvo as a clever teen-ager who knew what he was doing when he killed.
Malvo is due to stand trial Nov. 10 on capital murder charges in the killing of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, 47, on Oct. 14. Franklin was gunned down in the parking lot of a Home Depot store in the Seven Corners section of Fairfax County.
Muhammad's trial on capital murder charges in the killing of Gaithersburg engineer Dean Harold Myers on Oct. 9 at a gas station near Manassas is set to open Oct. 14.
Both trials were moved 200 miles southeast to the Hampton Roads area, Malvo's to Chesapeake and Muhammad's to Virginia Beach.