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Jury Finds Malvo Guilty in D.C. Sniper Case

BY Admin  December 18, 2003 at 6:12 PM EDT

After 13 hours of deliberation over two days, a court official read the verdict while Malvo listened with a blank expression.

The defense argued that John Allen Muhammad brainwashed Malvo to take part in the sniper shootings. Muhammad, a man whom Malvo thought of as his father, was sentenced to death by a Virginia jury in November for his role as the mastermind of the murders.

Malvo was convicted of two counts of capital murder in the shooting of FBI analyst Linda Franklin on Oct. 14, 2002. Franklin was killed by a bullet to the head outside a Home Depot in Falls Church, Va.

The counts against Malvo allege two things: the killing was part of a three-year series of murders and that Franklin’s killing was supposed to terrorize the public. Malvo and Muhammad were the first two people tried under the post-Sept. 11 terrorism law.

“I’m happy,” said June Boyle, the detective who heard Malvo’s confession. “Not all the way happy yet, though,” she added. “We still have sentencing to do.”

Malvo, who was 17 at the time of the shootings, could be sentenced to death. The sentencing phase of the trial will begin Friday.

In his closing argument, prosecutor Robert Horan referred to Malvo and Muhammad as “peas in a pod.”

“Their belief, as wild and vicious as it was, was that if they killed enough people, the government would come around,” he said in reference to the belief held by many authorities that the pair had intended to extort $10 million from the government.

Jurors saw photos of the crime scenes and listened to confessions that Malvo had given to police.

“I intended to kill them all,” Malvo said on one tape.

In another conversation with a detective, Malvo bragged about committing the shootings even with police nearby.

“You don’t mean nothing,” he said. “We will shoot with you there. We shoot with you not there. We will shoot with soldiers there.”

The defense argued that Malvo did not know right from wrong after Muhammad brainwashed him.

“Lee could no more separate himself from John Muhammad than you could separate from your shadow on a sunny day,” defense attorney Michael Arif said in closing arguments. “He was not the idea man. He was a puppet, molded like a piece of clay by John Muhammad.”

If the jury had convicted Malvo on the lesser charge of first-degree murder, he would not have been eligible for the death penalty.

Virginia is one of six states that have executed a minor since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.