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Teen Sniper Suspect Malvo Pleads Innocent

November 10, 2003

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) _ Lee Boyd Malvo pleaded innocent Monday to charges that he killed an FBI analyst during last year’s Washington, D.C., area sniper spree.

Malvo, wearing a navy sweater and dark pants, responded, ``Not guilty,″ in a clear voice each time when asked for his plea to two counts of capital murder and to one count of using a firearm in a felony.

He also politely responded, ``Yes, ma’am,″ when the judge asked if he was ready for trial.

Defense attorney Craig Cooley told Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush that he plans to present a defense of innocent by reason of insanity.

Before the arraignment, defense attorneys asked Roush to dismiss one of the capital murder charges, which alleges that Malvo committed an act of terrorism when he allegedly shot Linda Franklin outside a Home Depot in northern Virginia.

Defense attorney Mark Petrovich argued that the grand jury’s indictment was tainted. Petrovich noted that the judge had moved trials about 200 miles to Chesapeake partly because northern Virginia residents were terrorized by the sniper spree. He said the grand jury also should have been moved.

``Any bias that would eliminate a juror would also eliminate a grand juror,″ Petrovich argued.

Prosecutor Robert F. Horan Jr. said grand juries are different from trial juries. For example, the grand jury only has to determine probable cause that a person committed a crime while a jury must unanimously decide guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, he said.

The judge denied the defense request, saying, ``I never heard of such a thing as a chance of venue for a grand jury.″

Fifteen miles away, the trial of sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad resumed Monday with testimony from Maria Dancy of Tacoma, Wash., who said Muhammad and Malvo frequently attended a shooting range when they stayed at Dancy’s home in the spring of 2002.

She said Muhammad introduced Malvo as her son and that Malvo was obedient to Muhammad.

A theory being advanced by the prosecution against Muhammad is expected to be embraced by attorneys for Malvo trying to keep their sniper suspect off Virginia’s death row.

Posecutors in the Muhammad case are trying to convince a jury that Muhammad, 42, exerted such control over Malvo that Muhammad should be held responsible for the shootings that killed 10 and wounded three in the Washington, D.C., area last fall.