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Wednesday, 20 November, 2002, 14:03 GMT
No psychiatric tests for sniper suspect
Artist's impression of courtroom, with Malvo in green
Malvo is charged with the murder of Linda Franklin
A US judge in Virginia has rejected a request that psychiatrists be allowed to assess John Lee Malvo - one of the suspects of sniper killings around Washington DC last month.

Defence lawyer Michael Arif made the request after having reached the conclusion that he could not understand what motivated his client.
John Lee Malvo in Fairfax County Jail
Despite being only 17, Malvo could face execution
"What I want is an expert to tell me what makes this man tick," Mr Arif said outside court.

But Judge Kimberly J Daniel said a request for testing came too early in the case.

In a related development, the authorities have charged a man with helping the second suspect in the sniper case, John Allen Muhammad, falsify papers in order to obtain false passports.

'Level playing field'

Mr Arif said he was seeking a psychiatric evaluation because conversations with Mr Malvo had prompted the defence to seek professional mental health guidance.

He said he did not yet know whether he would enter a plea of insanity on Mr Malvo's behalf.

Judge Daniel also refused requests for forensic experts in ballistics, fingerprinting, and DNA for help in assessing evidence.

"You're only guessing at this juncture what you need and why you need it," she said.

Mr Arif said the defence was entitled to equal resources as the prosecution, which had been assisted by the county police, FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

"What we're trying to do is level the playing field, just a little bit," he said.

"We have a 17-year-old facing death."

Capital offence

Mr Malvo's preliminary hearing has been delayed from 5 December to 14 January to allow more preparation time.

That trial will only determine whether there is probable cause - sufficient grounds to prosecute Mr Malvo as an adult.

FBI analyst Linda Franklin
Linda Franklin was the 11th person shot by the sniper
Both Mr Malvo and Mr Muhammad face capital murder charges - meaning that, if there is a guilty verdict, they could face the death penalty.

Mr Malvo is being charged in Fairfax County, Virginia, for the murder of Linda Franklin outside a store on 14 October.

Mr Muhammad, 41, is being tried in Prince William County, also in Virginia state, for the murder of Dean Meyers outside a petrol station on 9 October.

Forgery suspicions

On Monday, investigators in Antigua announced that a Jamaican man in detention, Norman Miggil Manroe, had taught Mr Muhammad how to forge certificates to obtain false documents.

Mr Manroe was arrested in Bridgeport, Connecticut, last week and was charged with passport fraud on Tuesday.

The head of the Antiguan taskforce, John Fuller, told a news conference that the two men met in Antigua in 2000, when Mr Muhammad was serving a seven-month jail sentence for drugs trafficking.

In July that year, after his release, Mr Muhammad used the techniques he had been taught to obtain an Antiguan passport, Mr Fuller claimed.

Mr Manroe used the passport to evade deportation back to Jamaica.

John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo were arrested on 24 October after one of the nation's biggest ever manhunts.

Even though they face separate trials for different murders, prosecutors have said they may rely on evidence from any or all of the attacks around Washington DC.

A total of 21 shootings - 14 of them fatal - have now been linked to the pair.

Key Stories



Trail of terror
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See also:

08 Nov 02 | Americas
07 Nov 02 | Americas
03 Nov 02 | Americas
15 Nov 02 | Americas
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