Malvo convicted of sniper murder 18, 2003

Chesapeake, Virginia -- Teenage sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo was found guilty Thursday on all three counts against him, making him eligible for the death penalty.

Malvo showed no emotion as the verdict was read.

The charges included one count of terrorism, one count of capital murder and one count of a firearm violation.

Malvo was convicted in the October 14, 2002, killing of Linda Franklin outside a Home Depot in Fairfax County.

Franklin was one of 10 people killed in the sniper attacks that terrified Washington and outlying areas of Virginia and Maryland that month. Other attacks left three people wounded.

The verdict came on the second day of jury deliberations. Earlier, the judge denied jurors' request for another look at the car prosecutors say was used in the killings.

Jurors had asked Fairfax County Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush for permission to examine the 1990 Chevrolet Caprice for a second time after viewing it during Malvo's five-week trial.

Roush told jurors Thursday morning in a written response that the car "is not available for further inspections by you." She told jurors to rely on their recollections and any photographs or descriptions entered into evidence.

The request was one of several questions jurors posed to Roush late Wednesday, after they had deliberated for about six hours and 45 minutes.

Malvo, 18, had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

During the five-week trial, his lawyers argued he was under the control of John Allen Muhammad, who was convicted of capital murder and terrorism in his role in the sniper attacks by a jury in nearby Virginia Beach.

The jury in that case recommended the death penalty, but Muhammad won't be formally sentenced until February.

The Malvo jury also asked the judge on Wednesday for a further definition of "malice" and the phrase "under the control of reason," both of which appear in jury instructions.

Roush told jurors she could not elaborate on the "malice" definition. She told jurors to use the ordinary meaning of "under control of reason."

The jury instructions define malice, in part, as "that state of mind which results in the intentional doing of a wrongful act to another without legal excuse or justification at a time when the mind of the actor in under the control of reason. ... Malice may be inferred from any deliberate willful and cruel act against another, however sudden."

Jurors also asked whether the allegations of terrorism and capital murder against Malvo were separate charges. Roush told jurors that they were.

'Not believable'

In statements to police after his arrest, Malvo admitted taking part in the attacks. But his lawyers said Muhammad molded Malvo into a killer, and that the teenager was rendered unable to tell right from wrong, which would make him legally insane as defined by Virginia law.

In closing arguments held Tuesday, defense attorney Michael Arif told jurors that Malvo's confession was "not believable." He said Malvo took the fall to take the heat off Muhammad, the man he came to see as his father.

"Lee Malvo is gone," Arif said. "What you have now ... you have John Muhammad Junior."

But prosecutor Robert Horan Jr. told jurors that argument was a "smokescreen."

"The real issue here is October 14, 2002, when he sighted that rifle across that highway and shot Linda Franklin in the head, did he know it was wrong?" Horan said. "We submit that he did."

Wednesday morning, defense attorneys argued unsuccessfully to exclude any testimony about sniper attack victims other than Franklin in sentencing proceedings.

Prosecutors said they intend to present victim impact testimony from some of the other killings that occurred during October 2002.

In his closing, Arif argued against a death penalty ruling, saying "the pain inflicted" on victims and families in the sniper shootings "is inexcusable" but "adding another life to that pile of death is not going to solve anything."

Earlier, Horan told jurors the evidence is "overwhelming" that Malvo was the shooter, saying that Malvo's confession to police weeks after his arrest is more credible than the statements he made "after months with the mental health crowd."

In a dramatic flourish, Horan played portions of Malvo's tape-recorded confession following his October 2002 arrest, and showed a color photo of Franklin's body lying in the parking lot of the Home Depot store with half the head missing.

"He intended to hit her in the head. That's what he said. That's what he did," said Horan.

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