CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Jurors yesterday heard a taped police interview in which teen-age sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo told a detective that he and John Allen Muhammad devised detailed plans well in advance for each of the shootings that last fall laid siege to the Washington area in three weeks of terror.
Malvo played a verbal cat-and-mouse game with a Prince William County, Va., investigator, who over nearly an hour and a half coaxed a snickering Malvo into making several admissions. Malvo, then 17, said that he and John Allen Muhammad had a strategy for the killings, that he meant to kill all of the shooting victims and that he envisioned wreaking such havoc that the government would meet their $10 million demand or "bring in the military."
"They were all planned beforehand," Malvo said of the shootings that claimed 10 lives in the Washington area.
"You planned them all beforehand? Every single one was planned, and you just went in some kind of order in which they were planned?" Detective Samuel Walker asked.
"Uh huh," Malvo replied.
The teen-ager said the pair "had a strategy from the beginning" to weaken authorities with the shootings until the government caved in to their demand.
"Bring the military in would tear this side of the country up with the economy, tear this whole faction up, tear this whole section of the country up," Malvo said.
"Martial law in America - investors would just pull up on this side," he said later.
Jurors in Malvo's trial heard the tape in a Chesapeake courtroom on the same day that Virginia Beach jurors weighing a death sentence for Muhammad heard that police found 31 sites from Maryland to North Carolina marked on two electronic maps in a laptop computer in Muhammad's car. Some were marked with notations such as "good spot" and "possible hit."
Walker questioned Malvo after 10 p.m. on Nov. 7, 2002, the day after federal charges against the teen-ager and Muhammad were dropped and they were whisked out of Maryland to Virginia authorities. Malvo and Muhammad had been arrested at a Frederick rest stop Oct. 24. They are suspected in 13 shootings, 10 fatal, around Washington, and more elsewhere.
"Were there some people you wanted not to die?" Walker asked, and Malvo shook his head. "You intended to kill them all?" Walker continued. Malvo nodded yes, according to a transcript.
"Everyone you shot you intended to kill?" Walker asked.
"Well, I ... I intended to kill them all," Malvo said.
In the tape, Malvo said he was the triggerman "in all of them" and explained the logistics of shooting Dean H. Meyers on Oct. 9 at a Sunoco gas station outside Manassas. Malvo's rapid-fire words are peppered with such military terms as "recon." He said Meyers "came within my zone" on his rifle scope.
He can be heard snickering as Walker gently but relentlessly prodded him to talk. The veteran detective slowly gained the youth's confidence by telling him he would not hurt himself by talking and that Muhammad was cooperative - though on cross-examination defense attorney Craig S. Cooley said neither was necessarily true.
Malvo is pleading not guilty by reason of insanity; the defense contends that Malvo was so brainwashed by Muhammad that he assumed credit for acts he did not commit.
Malvo is charged with two counts of capital murder in the death of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, who was gunned down Oct. 14, 2002, in the parking lot of a Home Depot store in the Seven Corners section of the county. One count accuses him of multiple killings within three years, and the other accuses him of killing Franklin as part of a terrorist scheme to extort $10 million from the government. He is also charged with a weapons violation.
Walker testified that he "chuckled" to himself because Malvo "gave the impression that he was very intelligent."
But on cross-examination, Cooley pointed to inaccuracies in the details that Malvo gave Walker, saying that the youth took all the credit to protect Muhammad. Malvo said he shot Meyers in the right side of the head, but Meyers was shot behind the left ear; that Meyers had a pale-colored car, but it was dark; and Malvo got the approximate size of the car wrong.
Under questioning later by Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr., Walker said that Malvo turned one way but said the other when asked about where he shot Meyers.
Jurors will hear another confession tape today or tomorrow - that of questioning by Fairfax Detective June Boyle and FBI Agent Brad Garrett. In it, Malvo laughs about the killings, according to testimony at pretrial hearings. Boyle and Garrett questioned Malvo for several hours before Walker came in.
One of the four fatal sniper shootings that took place Oct. 3, 2002, in Montgomery County had not been publicly described until yesterday. James "Sonny" Buchanan was killed about 7:40 a.m. as he mowed the lawn of the Fitzgerald Auto Mall on Rockville Pike in Kensington. In brief testimony, workers at the dealership said Buchanan was shot, stumbled and fell.
"I heard a real loud sound, real loud," said Ernest Parker, a manager. He said he "hit the ground - I went down real fast, real fast," before seeing Buchanan "grab his chest, stumbling toward our driveway." Parker said he got up and raced toward Buchanan just as Buchanan fell. Parker said he screamed for people to call 911.
Dr. Mary Ripple, an assistant medical examiner who did the autopsy Oct. 4, detailed Buchanan's massive injuries. Buchanan was shot in the upper back, his left lung was shredded, and his heart torn before the bullet blew a large hole through his chest, she testified.
Sun staff writer Stephanie Desmon contributed to this article.