Nov. 18, 2003, 12:35PM
Malvo: 'I intended to kill them all'
CHESAPEAKE, Va. -- Sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo told police that he fatally shot Dean Harold Meyers in the head because he did not have an easier shot to the body. He also said he was the gunman in all of the sniper shootings, and "I intended to kill them all."
"I couldn't get a body shot" because Meyers was standing sideways, Malvo says on an audiotape played today in his capital murder trial.
"He went down," Malvo says when Detective Samuel Walker asks what happened to Meyers after the shot was fired.
Walker, a Prince William County police detective, testified that he questioned Malvo on Nov. 7, 2002 -- two weeks after his arrest in the Washington area sniper spree -- and "marveled at how intelligent he was."
Walker said Malvo, now 18, never appeared to be out of contact with reality during the conversation, which lasted more than 1 1/2 hours. Malvo's lawyers are mounting an insanity defense, saying the teen was brainwashed by John Allen Muhammad, the 42-year-old man convicted Monday of being the sniper mastermind.
About one hour and 10 minutes of the tape was played for jurors, who were given transcripts because the sound quality of the tape was poor.
When Walker asks Malvo whether he pulled the trigger in all the shootings, Malvo first responds, "Basically," then, when asked to clarify, says, "In all."
Walker also asks Malvo whether he intended to kill all the victims. Ten people died and 13 people were wounded during the spree.
"I intended to kill them all," Malvo says.
Malvo also says that there is no reason to cooperate because he knows that he has already lost "my time, my freedom."
Meyers was killed at a Manassas gas station Oct. 9, 2002, and Muhammad was convicted in that death. Malvo himself is charged with the Oct. 14, 2002, slaying of FBI analyst Linda Franklin outside a Home Depot in Fairfax County. Like Muhammad, he faces two capital murder counts, one alleging multiple murder and the other alleging that murder caused terror.
In nearby Virginia Beach today, meanwhile, testimony continued in the sentencing phase of Muhammad's trial. A rabbi whose Tacoma, Wash., synagogue was allegedly shot up by Muhammad and Malvo said he didn't know for several days that the damage to his temple had been caused by gunfire.
Rabbi Mark Glickman said he was in the midst of Saturday services at the Temple Beth El when he noticed a hole in the ark that holds the Torah, the faith's sacred scrolls. The bullet had barely missed the Torah itself.
When he saw the hole on the upper wall of the ark, "I thought it was a mouse. I wondered how it got up so high on the wall."
A few days later, a student pointed out another hole in the ark, and Glickman had his "a-ha moment," when he realized the holes were caused by a bullet.
"We didn't know who had done it, and we didn't think much of it," Glickman said. No one was injured in the May 2002 incident.
Prosecutors say the bullet was tied to a gun to which Muhammad had access, and that Muhammad espoused anti-Semitic views.
Also today, the 15-year-old cousin of a Tacoma woman allegedly slain by Muhammad and Malvo testified that she found her cousin lying dead at the front door of the family home.
Tamara Nichols said she went to the front door on Feb. 16, 2002, and found it wide open, with Keenya Cook on the ground.
"I saw blood around her," she said. "It was a small, dark puddle."
Tamara's mother, Isa Nichols, told Tamara to run upstairs and check on Cook's 6-month-old baby, "but I couldn't move."
Later, a paramedic testified that Cook, 21, was dead when they arrived. Prosecutors contend Muhammad and Malvo killed Cook as revenge because Isa Nichols supported Muhammad's ex-wife in a custody dispute.
Nichols herself testified Monday that Muhammad was a "chameleon" who was dangerous even though he often appeared courteous and kind. "He can be very serious, very concerned and joking. He can also be intimidating and angry," she said.
Muhammad and Malvo have been identified as suspects in the Cook slaying, but neither has been charged in her death.
Prosecutors said Monday they will prove during the penalty phase that Muhammad is remorseless and that he deserves to die because of his "callous attitude toward human life."
The defense, which is seeking to spare Muhammad from the death penalty, portrayed him as a loving father to his three young children, a man who once had a steady job and friends before his life unraveled when he lost custody of his children.
"There is a life to be weighed; there is a life on the line," Defense attorney Jonathan Shapiro said.
But prosecutor Richard Conway, who must show that Muhammad would present a future danger or that the crimes demonstrate "a depravity of mind," said there is no chance Muhammad will be rehabilitated in prison.
"This is a case where the death penalty is the only appropriate punishment," Conway said.
Circuit Judge LeRoy F. Millette Jr. handed prosecutors a loss Monday, ruling that the only victim family members allowed to testify in the sentencing phase will be relatives of Meyers. Prosecutors had wanted to present testimony from relatives of other sniper victims as well.