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Tuesday, Dec. 23
5:37 p.m.
That’s all from Chesapeake. Happy holidays and happy new year, and we’ll update you on the sentencing hearing in March.

5:13 p.m.
A jury spared the life of Lee Boyd Malvo today, recommending life in prison with no chance of parole for his role in the sniper shootings that terrorized the Washington, D.C., area last year.

Judge Roush will hold a final sentencing hearing on March 10 in Chesapeake, Va.

It took the jury, made up of eight women and four men, eight hours and 40 minutes over two days to decide between imposing death or sentencing Malvo to life in prison. They also imposed two separate fines of $100,000.

In the verdict statement, jurors said they found both of the prosecution’s criteria for death — that the crimes were "outrageously or wantonly vile" and that Malvo was probably a future danger to society — to be present. But they found that the mitigating factors of the case outweighed those judgements and, as allowed under Virginia law, they opted to give Malvo life in prison.

Dressed in a bright blue sweater, Malvo stared ahead as the verdict was read aloud. His defense lawyers stared at the table, Craig Cooley's head deeply bowed as if in prayer. After the verdict was read, Cooley tapped Malvo on the arm.

The verdict was delayed slightly because the jury initially returned with only one of the two seven-page verdict sheets filled out -- the one for the count of terrorism. The judge sent jurors back into the jury room to fill out the other verdict sheets. After they returned, she had to send them back again because they had still not completed the sheets. The third time they returned, they had filled the sheets out correctly.

Last Thursday, the same panel found Malvo guilty of two counts of capital murder, returning the verdict after almost 13 hours of deliberation over two days.

Malvo was charged with two counts of capital murder. The first count involved the shooting of Linda G. Franklin in an act of terrorism. Franklin was shopping at a Home Depot near Falls Church, Va. on Oct. 14, 2002, when she was killed. The second count charged that Malvo killed Franklin within three years of murdering Dean H. Meyers. Meyers was pumping gas in Manassas, Va., on Oct. 9, 2002, when he was fatally shot.

Malvo was also found guilty of illegally discharging a firearm.

Last month, Malvo’s partner John Allen Muhammad, 43, was convicted for his role in the same crimes and a jury recommended a death sentence.

The defense tried to convince the jury that Malvo had been so brainwashed by Muhammad that he did not know right from wrong, and should therefore be found not guilty by reason of insanity. The jury rejected the idea.

They did apparently agree with Cooley’s closing argument, in which he pleaded with them to spare Malvo’s life.

"The acts are despicable; the child is not. The acts are irredeemable; the child is not," Cooley said Monday. "It’s a test of our humanity to condemn the act, but love the child."


Franklin’s daughter Katrina Hannum broke down and wept, shaking her head, after the verdict was read.

Victoria Buchanan Snyder -- the sister of James L. "Sonny" Buchanan, who was shot near White Flint auto mall on Oct. 3, 2002 -- thanked the jury at a news conference after the verdict. Through tears, she said she realized that it was probably because of Malvo's age that he was sentenced to life in prison.

"I don’t think there could be another case more deserving of capital punishment. I respect the jury’s decision and I will live with it," Snyder said. "I am disappointed, but I accept it."

Paul La Ruffa, who was shot in the parking lot of his Clinton restaurant on Sept. 5, 2002, said he thought it was unfair that Malvo was sentenced to life in prison after a jury had recommended the death penalty for Muhammad.

"Was Malvo less guilty than Muhammad? I don’t think so. I’m a bit disappointed in the system," he said.

Defense attorneys Cooley and Arif spoke, saying they intended to file appeals on Malvo’s behalf. They can submit those petitions up to 30 days after the final sentencing hearing in March.

They said they were confident that Malvo will have additional trials, but that that they would not be the lawyers in trials in Alabama or Louisiana. They did not mention Maryland as a possible future venue.

"Lee does have remorse," Cooley said. "We do feel that everyone is redeemable."

He said the trial "takes an emotional toll" and that he was exhausted. "I felt a lot of emotion right at the surface."

"This was an agonizing, very difficult decision" for the jury to make, Arif said.

We’re relieved and very appreciative to the jury," Cooley said. "There’s not a lot of joy in this case, no matter what the result."


The final speaker at the news conference was James Wolfscale, the foreman of the jury and a minister. Six other jurors stood behind him as he read a prepared statement.

"The past six weeks have been an extremely difficult journey for everyone," he said, adding that the process was "both mentally challenging and emotionally exhausting."

4:13 p.m.
Lee Boyd Malvo has been sentenced to life in prison without parole. The jury of four men and eight women returned the unanimous verdict after 10 hours of deliberation.

Malvo was found guilty on all three counts with which he was charged -- the murder of Linda G. Franklin, capital murder in an act of terrorism and the illegal use of a firearm -- on Dec. 18.

3:46 p.m.
A verdict has been reached and will be announced shortly. Court was held up for several minutes because jurors came back with only one of the three verdict forms filled out. They have been sent back to the jury room to complete the other form; please stay tuned.

2:08 p.m.
The jury broke for an hour-long lunch at 1 p.m. No word yet; please stay tuned.


Before lunch, Arif was handing out candy to reporters and spectators in the courtroom.

About half a dozen anti-death penalty activists are protesting today outside the courthouse.

11:15 a.m.
The jury is still out. Deliberations began today at 9 a.m.

The judge indicated at the beginning of the trial that there would be no court Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. If jurors do not conclude deliberations today, court would resume at 9 a.m. Monday.


Click here for yesterday's coverage.


Marum Roush
Prosecuting attorney
Defense attorney
Defense attorney

Journal archives:
Week 11:
December 22

Week 10:
December 19
December 18
December 17
December 16
December 15

Week 9:
December 12: Court in recess
December 11
December 10
December 9
December 8

Week 8:
December 5
December 4
December 3
December 2
December 1

Week 7:
November 26-28: Court in recess
November 25
November 24:

Week 6:
November 21
November 20
November 19
November 18
November 17

Week 5:
November 14
   Malvo: Court in recess
November 13
November 12
November 11
   Muhammad: Court in recess
November 10

Week 4:
November 7
November 6
November 5
November 4: Court in recess
November 3

Week 3:
October 31
October 30
October 29
October 28
October 27

Week 2:
October 24
October 23
October 22
October 21
October 20

Week 1:
October 17
October 16
October 15
October 14

Related coverage:
Dec. 23: Malvo jurors mull sentence
Dec. 19: Guilty, guilty, guilty
Dec. 17: Jury to weigh two portraits of Malvo
Dec. 10: Malvo defense winding down with array of psychologists
Dec. 3: Alabama wants next try at convicted sniper
Dec. 3: Witnesses describe Muhammad's sway
Nov. 24: Jury calls for Muhammad's death
Nov. 24: Prosecution wraps up against Malvo in trial
Nov. 19: Convicted sniper awaits sentence
Nov. 19: Malvo trial opens with witnesses, tape of interrogation
Nov. 17: Convicted sniper faces death penalty
Nov. 12: Teen's lawyers argue he was indoctrinated
Nov. 12: Grounds for appeal sketched out as older suspect faces death penalty
Nov. 5: Muhammad jury sees rifle, evidence from car
Oct. 29: Montgomery shootings at heart of terrorism charge
Oct. 24: Gansler ready for sniper suspects -- if there's a trial
Oct. 21: Muhammad elects to represent himself in trial
Oct. 15: Sniper trial begins with pleas of not guilty
Oct. 9: Muhammad trial set to begin


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