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Malvo told jailers of plans for Baltimore

Teen sniper suspect also said he shot child to upset police chief, guard testifies

By Andrea F. Siegel

Sun National Staff

July 25, 2003

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FAIRFAX, Va. - Teen-age sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo told Supermax jailers that he intended to shoot a pregnant woman at a Baltimore cemetery and a city police officer, correctional officers testified yesterday, offering fresh details about the activities of the two suspects accused of terrifying the Baltimore to Richmond corridor with random shootings last fall.

Malvo also confessed to other shootings, telling the officers that he shot a Bowie middle-schooler to upset Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose because "when a man is upset he can't think straight," and claimed it "worked" because Moose cried on television, Cpl. Wayne Davis testified.

After listening to Malvo explain several shootings, Davis said he told the youth he was crazy.

"He said if he got out he would do the same thing all over again," Davis testified. But he said he thought Malvo was exaggerating.

The officers' remarks came during a hearing requested by Malvo's lawyers, who are asking Fairfax County Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush to block those and other statements from his capital murder trial, set to begin Nov. 10 in the Hampton Roads city of Chesapeake, Va.

The defense contends that the correctional officers are akin to police and should not have been questioning Malvo in the days after his apprehension when in an Oct. 24 federal hearing he invoked his right to stay silent and say nothing without his lawyers present. Prosecutors disagree, saying the officers are not police and that Malvo willingly started the conversation. Roush is expected to rule at the end of next month.

Capt. Joseph Stracke said Malvo told him that he was going to shoot the pregnant woman in Baltimore, but stopped when a police helicopter flew overhead. He also testified that the Jamaican-born teen-ager said he took aim at the head of a Baltimore police officer questioning John Allen Muhammad, his co-defendant, after Muhammad had parked their blue Chevrolet Caprice outside a Subway sandwich shop.

Prosecutors would not provide further details. But Baltimore Officer James Snyder did meet Muhammad in the hours after Muhammad came into a Subway in the city's Remington neighborhood shortly before it closed Oct. 7. That night, Snyder, suspicious of the car with its windows misted and parked for more than hour, ran its tags and spoke briefly with the driver. Muhammad told him that he was bound from Virginia to New Jersey to see his father and had stopped to nap. He sought directions to I-95 and drove off. But his information, from his driver's license, was entered in a city police database. Malvo told the guards that he had been hiding in a trash bin nearby.

It was earlier that same day that 13-year-old Iran Brown was shot and wounded outside Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie. Malvo, who was 17 at the time of the shootings last year, told the correctional officers that he intended to shoot up an entire school bus there. He said he was angry that earlier shootings and demands for $10 million had not generated the money, Davis said. Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. contends the ransom was the reason for the series of shootings.

The correctional officers' testimony offered chilling insight into the rationale for the shootings in October. Malvo, 18, and Muhammad, 42, are suspected in 20 shootings, 13 of them fatal, and face the possibility of execution if convicted of slayings in Virginia. But it also showed some naivete. Malvo said he and Muhammad planned to access their ransom money by drawing $100,000 to $200,000 at a time from bank ATM machines.

"I said it wasn't possible," Stracke said. "He said sure, they can program the machine."

Stracke said he first heard Malvo, a vegetarian, talk about the killings after breaking his silence on Oct. 26 to ask for some of Davis' fish dinner. He said Malvo told him that there were days when he did not eat before his "missions," which he explained were the shootings.

"You get more oxygen to the brain," he said Malvo told him.

Malvo is being tried in the death of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, 47, who was gunned down Oct. 14 in a Home Depot parking lot in Fairfax County.

"He said he shot the lady ... because she was just lazy, standing still," Stracke said.

"He said he first had his scope on a little boy," Davis testified later.

Stracke testified that Malvo told him he did not want to sit in prison. "He accepted the death penalty," he said.

Davis said Malvo told him that he was Muslim and that he and Muhammad embarked on the sniper shootings in part because they believed that white people had tried to harm Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader.

Malvo also said black people were targeted because if the two only shot whites, police would catch up with them faster, Davis testified. He added that Malvo told him that the two concentrated on Montgomery County because affluent people live there.

Davis said Malvo referred to Muhammad as his father. When the officer asked him whether the two had a sexual relationship, he said no.

Davis testified that Malvo also claimed to have shot a black girl in the face, two men working on a Brinks truck and a "senator on a golf course." Last year, police investigated a possible link to the fatal shooting of a man on a Tucson golf course, but the victim was not a senator. Malvo also said that some shootings were to clean up ghettos and complained about racism toward blacks, Davis testified. When he asked Malvo if he was "brainwashed," Malvo said no.

Malvo's court-appointed defense team has asked prosecutors for any evidence that Muhammad had control over Malvo.

Witness statements indicating that Malvo was subservient to Muhammad have been turned over to Malvo's defense. Legal experts elsewhere have said that may be the defense lawyers' best argument against execution if the teen-ager is convicted.

A letter Malvo is believed to have written before the serial shootings said: "I have a father who I know is going to have to kill me for a righteous society to prevail," according to defense lawyer Craig S. Cooley. Prosecutors believe that it refers to Malvo's biological father, but the defense believes it refers to Muhammad.

Muhammad is charged in the Oct. 9 fatal shooting in Prince William County, Va., of Dean Harold Meyers, 53, of Gaithersburg. Shortly after Malvo's trial was moved to Chesapeake, Muhammad's Oct. 14 trial was moved to nearby Virginia Beach.