The jurors who considered the fate of sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo maintained their camaraderie through six weeks of trial and the deliberations on whether the teenager was guilty of capital murder. But when it came time to decide whether Malvo should die for his role in the sniper rampage, the goodwill collapsed and the name-calling began, two jurors said Friday.
A core group of four jurors was convinced that Malvo -- 17 years old when he and John Allen Muhammad shot and killed 10 people in October 2002 -- did not deserve capital punishment, the foreman and another juror said.
The glimpse inside the jury room came at a meeting of the Virginia State Bar here, in which the prosecutors and defense attorneys from both sniper trials also appeared.
Susan G. Schriever, a nurse from Chesapeake who felt that Malvo deserved to be executed, said: "I couldn't understand how people sat in the same trial and didn't feel the same way. . . . I really felt it let the [victims'] family members down. It really broke my heart."
James Wolfcale, pastor of a 5,000-member church in Virginia Beach, also favored the death penalty. He said he was sorry to see the friendships the jurors had built quickly break down, but after arguing with those who were steadfast for a life sentence, "I'm not sure I ever want to see them again."
The jurors who opposed a death sentence felt that a lifetime in prison was a sufficiently drastic penalty and that Malvo wouldn't have become a serial killer if not for Muhammad, the two jurors said. Malvo's youth also may have played a factor in the penalty deliberations, Schriever said.
Neither Schriever nor Wolfcale entered the trial of Malvo with a certainty they could vote to impose the death penalty. But after seeing the crime-scene photos of the murder victims, watching the wrenching testimony of their survivors and checking Malvo for any sign of remorse, they felt he deserved to die.
"I think a lot of us spent a lot of time looking at Mr. Malvo," Schriever said, "looking for some form of emotion. We wanted to find some reason for this. But in the end, there was no reason. He was guilty."
Just weeks after a Virginia Beach jury sentenced Muhammad to die for his role as the mastermind in the sniper shootings, a Chesapeake jury imposed a life sentence on Malvo on Dec. 23 for being the shooter in at least one killing, the death of Linda Franklin at the Seven Corners Home Depot. Muhammad faces a second trial in Fairfax, for Franklin's death. His first court appearance is set for Tuesday.
Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said in December that he thought the holiday season had contributed to the jurors' decision not to impose a death sentence. Both jurors disagreed with that Friday. "I didn't hear anybody else bring that up as a factor," Schriever said. "We were going to get a break for the holidays whether we finished or not."
One of Malvo's lawyers, Craig S. Cooley of Richmond, used the occasion to again denounce the availability of the death penalty for 16- and 17-year-olds in the United States. The Supreme Court will revisit the issue this fall, and Cooley noted that four justices have called juvenile executions "a shameful act."
Cooley added, "Juvenile execution is something that the rest of the world recognizes is beyond the pale."
Horan responded that some countries "believe in all sorts of savagery, but they don't execute juveniles. They don't believe in due process. . . . The fact they don't do it in Iran or France doesn't bother me in the least."
The longtime Fairfax prosecutor said that lumping all juveniles into one exempt class doesn't account for those who are prodigies, whether in the arts, sports or crime. "I knew he would never testify," Horan said of Malvo, "because he has no remorse. He's different. He's a different juvenile."
Horan also noted that Malvo was 18 during the trial, but "he looks 15, and they suited him up to look younger," with preppy sweaters and slacks. Cooley denied that during the trial but admitted it during a recent meeting of Virginia defense lawyers. Friday, he just smiled.
Schriever said Malvo did look young, but "as the trial progressed, he just didn't seem to be that young anymore. He did, in fact, seem wise beyond his years. We were able, for the most part, to put that aside."
Wolfcale said some jurors believed that a life sentence for Malvo would be "extremely devastating" and worse than a death sentence. Schriever said some felt that Muhammad's influence mitigated Malvo's role, "but it was never one real strong reason." She said she thought that if Malvo were slightly older, some jurors might have been swayed.
Wolfcale said that "there were some who would not have voted for death under any circumstance." But he did not know whether the jurors held that view prior to trial, when they were asked whether they could vote for death, or whether Malvo's case landed them there.