Malvo May Testify for Sniper Prosecution

The Associated Press
Tuesday, May 2, 2006; 8:49 PM

ROCKVILLE, Md. -- Lee Boyd Malvo was once so close to convicted Washington-area sniper John Allen Muhammad that he called him "Dad." But more than three years after they were arrested for the shootings, any devotion appears to be gone.

Malvo is negotiating a plea bargain in which he would testify for the prosecution at Muhammad's trial for six Maryland sniper shootings in 2002, a source familiar with the case said Tuesday.

Malvo is prepared to testify about the shootings and his relationship with Muhammad, said the source, who requested anonymity because the deal was not complete.

Under the terms being considered, the source said Malvo would plead guilty in connection with the shootings and would be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Malvo's attorneys did not return calls, and Montgomery County prosecutors would not comment.

Muhammad, who is defending himself, was told of the development Tuesday morning by his standby attorney before the second day of jury selection began. J. Wyndal Gordon said Muhammad was not surprised, since Malvo is on both Muhammad's witness list and the prosecution's list.

Muhammad is prepared to cross-examine Malvo if he is called to testify, Gordon said. "Mr. Muhammad harbors no ill feelings for Mr. Malvo."

Separately, Muhammad indicated to the judge that he probably will testify in his own defense.

As jury selection continued, Muhammad asked Circuit Judge James Ryan to question prospective jurors more closely about their opinions about the case, which he said aren't likely to change during the trial.

Almost all of the more than 90 individuals questioned by the judge through midday Tuesday said they already had formed an opinion. Those who said they could still render a fair and impartial verdict were chosen for a pool from which the 12 jurors and four alternates are to be selected Thursday.

"In my experience, I've learned a lot about human beings, and human beings just don't flip-flop like that on a moment's notice," Muhammad said.

Ryan agreed to probe more deeply and excused several people who said their minds were made up.

Also, relatives of sniper victim Conrad Johnson said Tuesday that a man who yelled obscenities at Muhammad in court Monday and claimed to be his cousin was not related to the family.

The three-week shooting spree in October 2002 began and ended in Montgomery County. Ten people were killed and three wounded in Maryland, Virginia and Washington. The pair have also been linked to killings in Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Washington state.

Muhammad, 45, and Malvo, 21, were both convicted in Virginia; Muhammad was sentenced to death, while Malvo got a life term. Neither faces the death penalty in Maryland.

© 2006 The Associated Press