Sniper Suspect Boyd's Defense Builds Case
Nov. 25, 2003
CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) _ Sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo's mother approved the designation of John Allen Muhammad as his guardian, the principal of a school that Malvo attended testified Tuesday at his murder trial.
Muhammad once identified himself as Malvo's uncle, Rosalind Aaron testified one day after a jury in a separate trial recommended that Muhammad be executed for the sniper killings.
Aaron, the principal of a Seventh-Day Adventist school on the Caribbean island of Antigua, described Malvo as ``intelligent, respectful and jovial.''
Prosecutors said Muhammad and Malvo, 18, formed a mobile sniper team. They presented evidence of 16 shootings, including 10 deaths, in Maryland, Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana and the District of Columbia.
Before defense attorneys opened their case Monday, Malvo's jurors heard the final segment of a recorded police interview, which included Malvo's predictions that he and Muhammad would both be executed for the shootings.
``I think they're gonna kill me,'' Malvo said.
Malvo is on trial for the Oct. 14, 2002, shooting of Linda Franklin at a Home Depot in Falls Church. He faces the same charges that Muhammad did.
In earlier segments of the taped confessions that were played for jurors, Malvo boasted that he was the triggerman in all the sniper shootings. His defense has admitted he shot Franklin, but said that Muhammad molded the teen into a killer.
On Tuesday, defense attorney Craig Cooley introduced a photo of the school where Aaron taught Malvo in the 11th grade, calling it a stark contrast with the state-of-the art high school where Muhammad enrolled Malvo in Washington state.
Aaron said Malvo left the school roughly two weeks after she took a Quran away from him, then gave it back at the end of the day. She said she didn't want him spreading Muslim ideas in a Christian school.
The first person to take the stand in Malvo's defense Monday was his father, Leslie Malvo, a mason who lives in Kingston, Jamaica.
Leslie Malvo said he had a ``very nice relationship, a loving one'' with Lee, whom he described as ``handsome, willing, obedient, manageable'' as well as ``beautiful.''
``Lee was my pride,'' Leslie Malvo said, speaking through an interpreter because of his strong Jamaican accent. ``I love him very much.''
Malvo's relationship with his mother was different, said Semone Powell, a second cousin.
She testified that Malvo's mother, Una James, beat him, even though he was an obedient child. James would get upset if she asked Malvo to bring her a basket and she thought the boy moved too slowly, Powell said.
``She would hit him, hit him randomly all over his body with her hand,'' Powell said. James also threw shoes at Malvo, pulled his hair and yelled at him, using ``words that were not so nice,'' she said.
Jurors could have given Muhammad life in prison for his two capital murder convictions. Prince William Circuit Court Judge LeRoy Millette will set Muhammad's sentence at a Feb. 12 hearing. Virginia judges rarely overturn jury recommendations for the death penalty.
The shootings terrorized the Washington region _ people were afraid to pump gas and to go to public places. Schools were locked down, especially after a note left at a shooting scene warned: ``Your children are not safe anywhere, at any time.''
Prince William Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert said that Muhammad took pleasure in killing people, and that the jury's sentencing decision was a ``victory for society'' that will serve as a deterrent to other killers.
Defense attorney Peter Greenspun said there are several possible grounds for an appeal, including Muhammad's conviction on a terrorism charge. The law is untested in the courts _ Muhammad was the first person tried under the statute.