The five-lawyer defense team contended that Malvo suffered from a "dissociative disorder" brought on by Muhammad's brainwashing. In it, the Jamaican youth lost his identity, suppressed his emotions and learned to separate his thoughts, actions and feelings.
"Right was what John Muhammad said it was. Wrong was what John Muhammad said it was," Arif told jurors.
Desperate for a father figure, adult attention and a stable home, Malvo was easy prey for Muhammad, who sold Malvo's mother fake documents in Antigua that enabled her to reach the United States. Muhammad took Malvo into his home in Antigua in 2001.
Muhammad imposed a strict diet and exercise regimen on Malvo, taught him to shoot, primed him on violent films and video games, and filled him with anti-white and anti-American ideas, mental health experts testified for the defense.
Muhammad's goals, they testified, were to be reunited with the three children he lost in a bitter custody battle, to get the government to pay $10 million that he would use to establish a utopian compound in Canada with 140 children, and, in a mission he saw as a calling from Allah, to free oppressed African-Americans.
The mental health experts contended that Malvo had misgivings about the shooting plan, but by then his identity was merged with that of the man he called his "father."
But Horan pointed to evidence that jurors evidently found compelling - Malvo's DNA on the Bushmaster rifle linked to the killings on just the spots where the shooter's would be, Malvo's fingerprints and DNA at crime scenes, his handwriting on an extortion demand note, his voice on a taped call to police, and that same voice bragging in a confession to police about his shooting prowess while snickering about the deaths. And they saw the Chevrolet Caprice that Malvo and Muhammad were arrested in, with its sniper's lair in the trunk and gun port above the license plate.
Horan argued that Malvo and Muhammad "killed all of these people essentially for money, that is why they did it. That's why they started Oct. 3 in the year 2002. They wanted to have enough bodies out there that the government would pay attention to them and pay the money," he said. "That belief, as wild, as vicious as it is, was that the government would come around."
In the capital murder count under the anti-terrorism law, prosecutors had to show only that Malvo was involved in the planning and killing, not necessarily that he was the shooter. That is a lower level of involvement than in the multiple-murder count.
Horan, in his closing argument, dismissed the "mental health crowd," which he said offered explanations that made no sense, such as Malvo recanting his confession to police and instead maintaining that he was the spotter most of the time and shot only two people - both of whom, Horan said, were killed in states that do not allow people who committed murder as juveniles to be put to death.
Malvo was 17 during the 13 Washington-area shootings that include three survivors. He and Muhammad are suspected in a about 21 shootings around the country, 14 of which were fatal.
"If you believe the mental health experts the defense presented, they are telling you he's insane, he doesn't know right from wrong, he doesn't know the nature, consequences and character of his acts, but believe him when he said he was the spotter. Believe this insane man when he said he was the spotter?" Horan argued.
Malvo was also convicted of a weapons violation, which carries a three-year prison term.
Virginia is one of a minority of states that allows the execution of killers who were under the age of 18 when they committed murder. Attorney General John Ashcroft sent both Malvo and Muhammad's first trials, for deaths in Fairfax and Prince William counties, to Virginia, which ranks second to Texas in the number of murder defendants executed since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. Four of them killed when they were juveniles.