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La. Jury Indicts Sniper Suspects

November 14, 2002

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ A state grand jury Thursday indicted Washington-area sniper suspects John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo on first-degree murder charges for a killing in Baton Rouge.

The victim, 45-year-old Hong Im Ballenger, was shot Sept. 23 during a robbery at the beauty products shop she managed. Prosecutors said they will ask for the death penalty for both men.

``These two individuals now have a date in Baton Rouge because of this indictment,″ said John Sinquefield, assistant district attorney.

Sinquefield said he was unsure when Muhammad and Malvo would be able to stand trial in Baton Rouge.

Louisiana is one of several states waiting to prosecute the men suspected in a months-long shooting spree that left 14 people dead and five others wounded. The others are Maryland, Virginia, Washington, the District of Columbia, Alabama and Georgia.

Ballistics tests positively linked the .223-caliber bullet used to kill Ballenger with the weapon used in several of the Washington-area sniper killings, police said.

Store receipts found in the car driven by Muhammad, 41, and Malvo, 17, also show that the men were in Baton Rouge on the day of the Ballenger shooting, investigators said. Ballenger was shot once in the head and her purse was stolen.

Malvo, 17, is being held in the Fairfax County jail in Virginia, charged in the Oct. 14 slaying of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, 47, outside a home improvement store in Falls Church, Va.

Muhammad, now held in Prince William County, Va., is charged with killing Dean Harold Meyers, 53.

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