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Malvo trial moved south


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My wife and I were in Jamaica towards the end of the sniper incidents, it was major news down there. I don't think this will make any difference to the trial.


Judge Orders Malvo Trial Moved to Chesapeake

By Tom Jackman

Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, July 2, 2003; 11:30 AM

A Fairfax County judge this morning ordered the capital murder trial of Lee Boyd Malvo be transferred to the city of Chesapeake, ruling that the fear caused by last fall's sniper shootings had unfairly prejudiced Malvo's right to a fair trial in the metropolitan area.

Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Jane Marum Roush revealed her decision in a six-paragraph letter to the prosecutors and defense lawyers early today. The defense had requested the change of venue for Malvo's Nov. 14 trial, saying that the shootings that killed 10 and wounded three people in the Washington area had made victims of everyone in the corridor from the Maryland suburbs south to Richmond.

"I believe that venue should be transferred to a jurisdiction outside of the Washington/Richmond corridor, where many citizens lived in fear during the month of October 2002 as a result of the crimes with which the defendant is charged," Roush wrote.

To support her ruling, Roush added a footnote citing 15 articles from The Washington Post that appeared during the three weeks in October, when the shootings were going on and the sniper suspects were at large. The articles featured headlines such as "Fear Infiltrates Everyday Activities," "Time of Fear, Words of Comfort" and "Fearful Neighbors Wonder if Killer Lives Among Them."

Malvo, 18, is charged with capital murder in the Oct. 14 shooting of Linda Franklin, 47, in the Seven Corners area. His alleged co-conspirator, John Allen Muhammad, 42, is being tried in Prince William County for the Oct. 9 killing of Dean Harold Meyers. Prosecutors allege that the two men tried to extort $10 million from the government in exchange for an end to the shootings, and both are charged under a new anti-terrorism law that prohibits violence intended to "intimidate the civilian population" or "influence the conduct or activities of the government . . . through intimidation."

Michael S. Arif, one of Malvo's court-appointed lawyers, said, "In general, we are pleased that Judge Roush has accepted our argument that many of the citizens of Fairfax County were victims of the sniper shootings." But he also questioned whether the trial could be held in Chesapeake on Nov. 14, when Muhammad's trial is set for Oct. 14.

"The trials, on their present schedules," Arif said, "may become a logistical nightmare for the commonwealth in presenting the cases in Prince William and Chesapeake." Prosecutors expect to share physical evidence, such as the Bushmaster rifle allegedly used in all of the shootings, between the two trials.

Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr., who had opposed moving the trial, expressed the same sentiment. "It's going to be a major logistical problem," he said. He noted that witnesses will have to be moved to Chesapeake and housed in hotels for uncertain lengths of time, in addition to transporting the physical evidence. "I hate to even think about it," he said.

Horan said he was surprised by Roush's ruling. "I was rather hopeful that we'd put some Fairfax citizens in the jury box and find out if we could give him [Malvo] a fair trial," the prosecutor said. Horan had previously argued that Roush shouldn't presume that Fairfax citizens automatically were prejudiced by the shootings, and that they should at least attempt jury selection to see if a fair jury could be empaneled.

Roush's order cannot be appealed. Though the trial moves, she will remain the judge, Horan will still be the prosecutor and Arif will still head the defense team.

Chesapeake has a population of about 199,000, according to 2000 census numbers, and is about 200 miles southeast of Fairfax. Both Chesapeake city officials and its judges told Roush they did not want the trial moved there, fearing increased costs of security and the invasiveness of a large media presence. Roush acknowledged their reservations in her letter, and said they "are not unjustified. Nevertheless, it is my best judgment that the defendant's right to a fair trial requires that venue in this case be transferred from Fairfax County."

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The odds are though that they will get a military dependant, vet, retiree, 700 club member or NRA type.

Heck I was one of those who agreed about taking your time to fix the Norfolk jail when it was decrepit with the mindset universally there being if you dont commit a crime you wont be in the hell hole.

Sucks to be a criminal there.

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