Sniper shootings coverage
FAIRFAX, Va. - Lawyers for sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo are seeking police evidence that they say shows the teen-ager was under the "spell" of fellow suspect John Muhammad.

In motions filed yesterday, attorneys for Malvo, 18, ask a Fairfax County Circuit Court judge to order prosecutors to disclose "exculpatory evidence" collected by various law enforcement agencies after Malvo's arrest.

The evidence includes what defense attorneys called 23 pages of police interviews of witnesses who describe Malvo as "under the spell" of John Muhammad during the relevant times of their relationship."

The defense argued in motions yesterday that the evidence "relates directly to the potential of false or exaggerated confession." They also said the purported evidence "bears directly upon the role and relative degrees of culpability of each of the defendants."

The two are accused of taking part in 20 shootings last fall that killed 13 people in Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Washington, D.C. Prosecutors have presented evidence portraying Malvo as an unrepentant marksman.

Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. scoffed at the defense claims.

"I haven't seen a single thing to suggest that Malvo was under a spell," Horan said in a telephone interview.