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Lawyers: Possible Deal for Sniper Malvo

By STEPHEN MANNING
The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 10, 2006; 9:44 PM

ROCKVILLE, Md. -- Convicted Washington-area sniper Lee Boyd Malvo is seeking a broad plea agreement in which he would plead guilty to other 2002 shootings that authorities have linked him to, defense attorneys and Maryland prosecutors said Tuesday.

The deal, announced as Malvo formally pleaded guilty to six Maryland murders, could be reached before his Nov. 9 sentencing for those killings. He is expected to receive six life sentences, without chance of parole, at that hearing.

Malvo lawyer William Brennan told Montgomery County Circuit Judge James Ryan that he hoped to use the time before sentencing to "reach a global resolution to Mr. Malvo's legal problems." Asked later by reporters for specifics, Brennan would only say that he would have "candid, frank discussions with some local prosecutors."

Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas Gansler said such a plea deal could mean Malvo may not serve his sentence in Virginia, where he was sentenced to life for his 2003 conviction in the death of FBI analyst Linda Franklin. He also pleaded guilty to another Virginia sniper shooting.

Malvo, 21, could plead guilty to the Oct. 3, 2002, shooting of Pascal Charlot in Washington and serve his life term in the federal system, Gansler said. Federal prosecutors handle murder cases in the District of Columbia.

Gansler said the decision rests with Virginia authorities, who agreed to let Malvo and his one-time mentor, John Allen Muhammad, come to Maryland for new trials. Under an interstate agreement, Maryland must return Malvo after his sentencing.

Kevin Hall, a spokesman for Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, said Kaine's staff has not had any recent discussions with Maryland prosecutors on a plea deal for Malvo. Virginia prosecutors had expressed sharp disapproval when the idea was proposed before Muhammad and Malvo's first trials in 2003.

The two were originally sent to Virginia because of its tough death penalty laws, but Malvo, 17 at the time of the killings, doesn't qualify for the death penalty after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down capital punishment for minors.

Charges are still pending against Malvo and Muhammad for sniper shootings in Louisiana, Alabama, Washington and Prince George's County, Md. In addition, authorities and published reports have tied the pair to shootings in Arizona, California, Georgia, Texas, and Washington state.

In all, 10 people were murdered and three wounded during the October 2002 shootings in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Brennan and Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas Gansler would not say which shootings could be included in the larger plea agreement.

Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert, who tried Muhammad, said he didn't think Malvo should be able to shop around for a prison.

"I feel sorry for Mr. Malvo that he doesn't like Virginia," Ebert said. "But he shouldn't have come here and committed crimes."

Other prosecutors were more receptive. John Sinquefield, first assistant district attorney in East Baton Rouge Parish, La., said he would consider letting Malvo plead guilty and go to federal prison if he had assurances he could never be let out.

Cheryll Witz, daughter of Jerry Taylor, who was killed in March 2002 while playing golf in Tucson, Ariz., wants Malvo to be prosecuted for the murder. But she considers it far more important to hear him admit to the crime than to try him.

"We're just asking him to confess and to say how he did it," Witz said Tuesday.

Another Malvo attorney, Timothy Sullivan, said his client has accepted responsibility for his part in the shootings and wants to make amends.

"Every single day this kid realizes the enormity of what he has done," Sullivan said. "Mr. Malvo is making attempts to redeem himself and move forward."

Muhammad, who was convicted in May by a Montgomery County jury and given six life terms, has already been sent back to Virginia, where he is on death row for a sniper shooting in Manassas, Va.

In May, while helping prosecutors win convictions against Muhammad, Malvo gave two days of riveting testimony that provided the first insider account of the duo's three-week rampage across the Washington region, shooting random victims with a rifle while using a beat-up Chevrolet Caprice as cover.

___

Associated Press Writer Matthew Barakat in McLean, Va. contributed to this report.

© 2006 The Associated Press