Malvo's mother blames self, U.S. authorities

KINGSTON, Jamaica -- The mother of teenage sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo said she feels responsible for him and is sorry for the shooting victims, but she blamed U.S. authorities for not removing him from the care of fellow suspect John Allen Muhammad.

In a pre-taped interview broadcast Sunday on Jamaican television, Una James, 38, said she feels guilty for leaving her son with Muhammad when she went to the United States to find work.

"I have to live with this until the day I die. I ask myself how I am going to handle it," she told Jamaican station TVJ in the first interview she has granted since her son's arrest. "You'd like to go back and change things, but you can't."

James, however, said she still blames police and social workers in Bellingham, Wash., for not removing Malvo from Muhammad's care when she warned them that he was in danger.

"I was crying to them that my son was in danger but they didn't listen," James said.

Bellingham police have disputed her account. Police Chief Randall Carroll said last week that when James first contacted the department to claim Malvo as her son, her information was "very vague and deceptive" and she was unable to produce documents proving their relationship.

Malvo, 18, and Muhammad, 42, allegedly took part in 20 shootings that killed 13 in Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Washington, D.C. last year. Prosecutors have said the three-week shooting spree was part of scheme to extort $10 million from the government. Both could face the death penalty if convicted.

James said she fears her son's possible execution and would like to visit him in jail.

"He is still my son and I love him," she said. "I'm sorry for all those innocent people who died."

The interview was conducted June 18 at the TV station's studio in Kingston and broadcast in two parts.

In the first half of the TVJ interview that aired June 22, James denied reports that she was romantically involved with Muhammad, whom she called "a demon."

James also allowed the host to read from a letter from her son in which he told her not to feel responsible for his actions.

In the segment aired Sunday, James also said she asked Malvo's father, Leslie Malvo, for money to support them when they were living in poverty in Kingston, but he refused.

Leslie Malvo has said he had a good relationship with his son until he moved to the Cayman Islands when Lee was 9. He told the Associated Press last year the James was "a bad mother" and said he supported them as best he could.

James, who was deported to her native Jamaica in December 2002, has turned down repeated interview requests from the AP through her lawyer, Debbie Fraser.

Fraser said her client would only grant interviews for a fee. However, James was not paid for her interview with TVJ, which was conducted June 18 in Kingston, station manager Marcia Forbes said.

Malvo is expected to go on trial Nov. 10 for the Oct. 14, 2002, shooting of FBI analyst Linda Franklin in Falls Church, Va.

In 1998, James and Malvo moved from Jamaica to Antigua, where they met Muhammad, a U.S. Army veteran and mechanic who allegedly supplied Antiguan passports to people looking to emigrate illegally to the United States.

Investigators believe Una James bought identification papers from Muhammad and entered the United States in late 2000 while her son stayed behind with Muhammad.

Malvo came to the United States two months after James bearing a false passport that identified him as Muhammad's son, according to Antiguan officials.

He joined his mother in Fort Myers, Fla., but ran away in October 2001 to join Muhammad in Bellingham, where they lived at a homeless shelter as father and son.

James said she had asked Bellingham police to help her get her son back in September. During the investigation, police said Malvo's comments indicated he and his mother were in the country illegally and officers summoned the Border Patrol, which arrested the mother and son, then released them on $1,500 bail.

Investigators believe Malvo soon rejoined Muhammad and the shootings began shortly afterward.

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