Malvo as Neo

Albarus said she saw Malvo as the Neo character in The Matrix. Played by Keanu Reeves, Neo leads a small band who become aware that they are living in an alternate reality. They fight their way out of a manufactured "reality" to regain control of their lives from the malevolent forces that are controlling them and all others.

"I saw certain patterns in The Matrix regarding Lee," the social worker said. She said she saw convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad as the character Morpheus, who is Neo's mentor and plays a role in his life similar to the one Muhammad played in Malvo's - that of a father figure who leads the way to the truth.

The oppression theme from the film carries over into Malvo's drawings. In one elaborate sketch, he shows a black man hanging by his wrists and being whipped by Uncle Sam, the well-known symbol of America, holding a money bag in one hand and a whip in the other.

Elsewhere in the drawings, mostly done from January to March of this year, a black figure appears to be hanged near the caption, "We refuse to be oppressed, and when you stand in our way we will crush you, destroy you. Total destruction only solution." The words destroy and destruction were underlined twice.

The pages contain anti-American, anti-Semitic, anti-white and anti-gay sentiments. One illustration shows the White House in the cross hairs of a rifle scope with the caption: "Sept. 11 we will ensure will look like a picnic to you. ... Welcome to the new war. You are not safe anywhere at anytime."

In the drawings and letters, Malvo apologizes to Muhammad for his "failure." Authorities have said Malvo was supposed to be acting as lookout the night the pair was captured in their car at a Frederick County rest stop. Instead, Malvo was sleeping when a SWAT team stormed the vehicle.


In another sketch, Malvo writes: "I'll be back and next time whatsoever my endeavor is 'I will not fail.'"

Experts say such talk may be a way for Malvo to prepare himself for his possible fate. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty - a sentence already imposed on Muhammad last week by a Virginia Beach jury. Such notions might also have been a way for Malvo to condition himself to commit the sniper killings, experts say.

Malvo's lawyers do not argue that he was not involved in the shootings. But they contend that he cannot be held responsible because of the intense indoctrination he suffered at the hands of Muhammad.

"The 9/11 terrorists spoke this way, and they had to perform a similar process of desensitization," said Kennedy. "It's not a comfortable human thing to destroy yourself. It's saying, 'I don't need to worry about this world. It's all an illusion. I'll be better off [elsewhere].'"

The drawings were submitted as evidence by the Malvo defense team, in an apparent attempt to show the jury the extent of the alleged brainwashing inflicted by Muhammad. For months after his arrest, Malvo refused to speak ill of Muhammad, and the drawings show that he considered him his father and a "brave man."

The process of breaking down that "step-by-step indoctrination" has been a slow one, defense attorneys said, but it reached a critical point in August when Albarus showed Malvo a videotape of people he knew and places he had been in Jamaica.

The memories, Albarus said, made Malvo break down in tears.