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Wednesday, 15 January, 2003, 02:58 GMT
Teen sniper suspect appears in court
Courtroom sketch at John Lee Malvo hearing
Franklin (l) told the court how his wife died
Teenage sniper suspect John Lee Malvo has appeared in court in Virginia on the first day of a hearing to determine whether he should be tried as an adult.

Prosecutors in Fairfax County say they have strong evidence that Mr Malvo, 17, should be tried for capital murder before a grand jury and face a possible death penalty.

Mr Malvo and John Allen Muhammad, 42, face charges relating to a spate of sniper attacks around the Washington DC area last October in which 10 people died and three were wounded.

Mr Muhammad is due to go on trial in October in Prince William County, Virginia, charged with the murder of Dean Meyers outside a petrol station. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

Fingerprints

Prosecutor Robert Horan told the court that Mr Malvo's fingerprints on the murder weapon linked him to three of the killings.

John Lee Malvo
Malvo's fingerprints were on the weapon, said the prosecutor
He also said that his fingerprints were on a packet of raisins recovered from the scene of another shooting, near a note reading: "Your children are not safe anywhere at any time."

Under a new anti-terrorism law in Virginia, killers convicted of trying to intimidate the public can face the death penalty.

The court heard a statement from William Franklin, whose wife Linda was shot dead on 14 October last year.

She was shot while the couple were putting a shelf into their car after shopping at a home improvement shop.

FBI analyst Linda Franklin
Linda Franklin was the 11th person shot by the sniper
"I went to her side to see if there was anything at all I could do, and there wasn't," he said.

Mr Malvo's defence lawyers asked last week for the hearing to be closed to the public, saying publicity could prejudice a future trial.

However, the judge threw out the application.

Mr Muhammad and Mr Malvo were arrested on 24 October after one of America's biggest manhunts.

They are suspected of carrying out a series of murders in Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and Alabama, as well as the shootings in the Washington DC area.


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