ROCKVILLE—Lee Boyd Malvo walked into the packed courtroom yesterday in a dark suit and white shirt and barely looked at the man he once considered his father.
Called as a witness in the sniper trial of John Allen Muhammad, Malvo spoke softly, looked right at the prosecutor who questioned him, frequently gesticulated with his hands and raised his eyebrows. He was rarely at a loss for words and had no traces of an accent from his native Jamaica.
"I didn't think about the victims as individuals," Malvo said. "My thoughts were only about Mr. Muhammad."
Malvo, who has agreed to plead guilty to the six sniper killings in Montgomery County, gave his testimony in a calm, polite and dispassionate way.
His hair neatly trimmed, he almost looked like a prep school student, one spectator said.
He didn't stumble on words or stutter as Muhammad, who is acting as his own lawyer, has often done.
Occasionally, Malvo would twist his lips - one of the few signs of discomfort in a long day of questioning.
This was a fuller-faced, more mature Malvo than the cartoon-doodling teenager who slumped in his chair, seemingly bored by the proceedings, at his 2003 murder trial in Chesapeake, Va.
Malvo is serving life sentences without parole in Virginia for three sniper shootings.
Yesterday he sat up straight in his chair and focused intently on whomever was asking him questions.
Courtroom observers had eagerly anticipated the confrontation between the two men, but even under questioning from Muhammad, Malvo maintained his unruffled demeanor.
Emotions in checkWhen Muhammad accidentally called him "son" and asked whether he had lied to prosecutors in Virginia (where Malvo initially claimed he pulled the trigger in all of the shootings), Malvo did not flinch. He did not raise his voice.
A couple of times, Malvo paused for a long time, and it seemed that he might show a crack of emotion, but then he would keep going in the same quiet but certain way. Though he described breaking down, crying and shaking, he did not act emotionally on the stand.
"I'm not proud of myself. I'm just trying to make amends if possible," Malvo said.
For most of the day, Malvo responded to questions from the prosecutor.
He spoke about his childhood in Jamaica. He said he was estranged from his mother and saw very little of his father. He did not have any adult confidantes, he said.
That changed when he met Muhammad in 2000 after spotting him in an electronics store with his children.