Teenage sniper suspect John Lee Malvo says the vegetarian "loaf" he is being fed in jail has made him sick, the latest in a series of complaints he has lodged about his treatment at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.
Malvo's court-appointed guardian, Todd G. Petit, requested last month that Malvo be fed the loaf after a judge denied a request that Malvo be provided with vegetarian meals. Officials said Malvo was the first jail inmate to request the loaf, a reputedly bland concoction typically given to inmates as a disciplinary measure. This week, Petit told jail officials that the loaf hasn't agreed with Malvo, and he renewed a request for some other type of meatless menu.
Jail officials have denied the request and said Malvo would have the same food choices as other inmates.
Malvo, 17, and John Allen Muhammad, 41, are suspected in 21 shootings -- 14 of them fatal -- across the country, including the October sniper shootings in the Washington region. Malvo will be tried first on capital murder charges in Fairfax County, while Muhammad is to be tried initially in Prince William County.
This week's back-and-forth between Petit and Fairfax County Sheriff Stan Barry concerning Malvo's meals was the latest of several complaints lodged by Malvo's defense team about its client's treatment.
During a Nov. 15 hearing, Malvo's attorney Michael S. Arif unsuccessfully argued that a judge should order jail officials to provide vegetarian meals for Malvo. Arif also complained that the lights in Malvo's cell were too bright and that his client had no privacy when using the bathroom.
Days later, Petit wrote to Barry and asked that all three of Malvo's daily meals consist of the vegetable loaf, which contains raisins, carrots, wheat bread and powdered milk.
In a Dec. 16 letter to Barry, Petit said that Malvo "appears unable to appropriately digest the loaf" and that his ward's Muslim beliefs require a vegetarian diet.
"I am very concerned that although [my client] states that he had adverse physical reactions to the loaf, his only option, according to medical staff, is to eat a meal that is against his religious beliefs," Petit wrote.
Barry fired off a letter to Petit yesterday, saying the staff would serve Malvo regular meals or the menu prepared for other Muslim inmates, which includes meat but not pork. Barry said that he asked Malvo about his meal choice and that Malvo "admitted that his diet is one of preference not of religious belief."
"When you go to jail, you don't give up a number of your rights, but you do give up a number of your choices, and this is one of them: what you eat," Barry said yesterday.