Malvo to drop all appeals of conviction for one of 10 sniper slayings, plead guilty to second

Associated Press/September 25, 2004
By Matthew Barakat

McLean, Va. -- Teenage sniper Lee Boyd Malvo will admit guilt to a second of 10 killings in October 2002, and drop all appeals of his first conviction, his lawyer said.

A plea hearing is scheduled for Oct. 26 in Spotsylvania County Circuit Court, where Malvo is charged with capital murder in the Oct. 11, 2002, killing of Kenneth Bridges.

Malvo will plead guilty and accept a sentence of life in prison, defense attorney Michael Arif said Friday. The plea bargain would eliminate the possibility of a death sentence in that case.

The teen will also drop all appeals of his conviction last year for the murder of FBI analyst Linda Franklin. The jury in that case sentenced him to life in prison, sparing him the death penalty.

Malvo, now 19 but 17 at the time of the killings, is ready to accept a lifetime in prison, his lawyer said.

"He gave us instructions to get this done as quickly as possible," Arif said. "He knows he's not going anywhere."

Spotsylvania County prosecutor William Neely did not immediately return a call Friday.

For a brief period, Arif said, Malvo held on to a "fantasy" hope that if he could talk to his partner in the sniper spree, John Allen Muhammad, he could persuade Muhammad to tell the truth about the killings and minimize Malvo's responsibility so Malvo could seek a reduced sentence.

But Arif said Malvo now realizes that will not happen.

Malvo, who initially told police he was the triggerman in nearly all of the killings, recanted and claimed Muhammad was the triggerman in all but one. His lawyers said Malvo had been brainwashed by Muhammad and Muhammad was the driving force behind the sniper spree.

But Malvo still runs the risk of the death penalty in other cases.

Prince William County prosecutor Paul Ebert, who obtained a death sentence for Muhammad, has said he will pursue the death penalty against Malvo if the Supreme Court rules this fall that the execution of those who commit murder at age 16 or 17 is constitutional.

Malvo also could face a death penalty in Alabama and Louisiana, where he faces murder charges for killings that took place in the months preceding the October 2002 sniper spree in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area that left 10 people dead.

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