Malvo Pleads Guilty to Montgomery Slayings

By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Sniper Lee Boyd Malvo formally took responsibility yesterday for his role in the October 2002 sniper shootings in Montgomery County, pleading guilty to six counts of first-degree murder.

His attorneys said that before Malvo's scheduled Nov. 9 sentencing hearing, they will try to reach a "global resolution," which presumably would entail his pleading guilty to slayings and shootings in other parts of the country where he is a suspect.

If such a deal is reached, Malvo, 21, could benefit by being allowed to serve time in a federal prison rather than a maximum-security penitentiary in Virginia, where he was first convicted of murder. Although defense lawyers raised the prospect of such an agreement, no negotiations appear to be underway.

Malvo, dressed in a green prison jumpsuit, said little during the 30-minute hearing in Rockville. He spoke softly, answering "yes" or "no" to questions that are routinely asked in plea hearings to ensure that the admission of guilt is being offered freely and legitimately.

"This is an articulate, intelligent kid who was manipulated and cajoled by a monster, a coward," said attorney Timothy J. Sullivan, referring to Malvo's fellow sniper, John Allen Muhammad. "Malvo is making attempts to redeem himself and to move forward."

Malvo pleaded guilty in the slayings of James D. Martin, 55; James L. "Sonny" Buchanan, 39; Premkumar A. Walekar, 54; Sarah Ramos, 34; Lori Lewis Rivera, 25; and Conrad Johnson, 35.

Malvo's attorneys spoke only broadly about his "legal problems" outside the Washington area and declined to describe their efforts to reach a sweeping plea agreement.

"The jurisdictions know who they are, and they know where we are," said William Brennan, Malvo's other attorney.

In June, The Washington Post reported that Malvo told law enforcement officials in the spring that he and Muhammad committed two homicides and two nonfatal shootings outside the area that had not been publicly attributed to them. The slayings happened in California and Texas; the other shootings took place in Florida and Louisiana.

Muhammad and Malvo killed 10 people in the Washington area and wounded four. Including the four crimes Malvo cited this spring, the pair are suspects in seven homicides and six nonfatal shootings that took place before they reached the Washington area.

Montgomery State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler said his office made no concessions to Malvo in exchange for his guilty plea in the Maryland cases. Prosecutors intend to ask Montgomery Circuit Court Judge James L. Ryan to sentence Malvo to six terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole. His punishment in Maryland is likely to be merely symbolic, however, because he is serving life without the possibility of parole in Virginia.

Gansler said a plea hearing on a deal that would allow Malvo to serve time in a federal prison could provide answers and closure to dozens of victims' relatives.

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