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Trial hears Malvo ‘a cult of one’

Associated Press, USA
Dec. 17, 2003 • Wednesday December 17, 2003

CHESAPEAKE, Va. –The jury in the murder trial of Lee Boyd Malvo got the case yesterday after his lawyer argued the teenager was completely under the spell of mastermind John Allen Muhammad when he took part in the Washington-area sniper shootings.

Defence lawyer Michael Arif said Malvo, desperate for a father figure, found the wrong man to emulate in Muhammad and eventually became “a cult of one” with Muhammad as his leader.

“Lee could no more separate himself from John Muhammad than you could separate from your shadow on a sunny day,” Arif told the jury.

But prosecutor Robert Horan Jr. said Malvo was as responsible as Muhammad, calling the pair “peas in a pod.”

“Their belief, as wild and vicious as it was, was that if they killed enough people, the government would come around” and meet their demand for $10-million US, Horan said.

Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush sent the case to the jury just after 4 p.m. EST yesterday. They picked a foreman and were sent home until deliberations were to begin this morning.

Malvo’s lawyers have argued the 18-year-old was temporarily insane because of Muhammad’s brainwashing, causing him to blur the distinction between right and wrong.

In closing arguments, Arif told the jury that Malvo was “the last victim of John Muhammad.”

But Horan said Malvo and Muhammad share the blame.

“Their willingness to kill, and do it for money, is common to both of them,” he said.

Malvo is charged with the Oct. 14, 2002, slaying of FBI analyst Linda Franklin during a three-week rampage in the Washington, D.C., area.

Horan urged the jury to accept Malvo’s confession to police last year, which the accused subsequently recanted.

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