A grand jury indicted Lee Boyd Malvo, the 17-year-old suspect in the sniper attacks, for capital murder. The grand jury met Tuesday, Jan. 21.
Malvo is charged with the Oct. 14 murder of Arlington resident Linda Franklin, a FBI analyst, outside a Home Depot store in Falls Church.
William Franklin and his wife had just finished two hours of shopping at the Home Depot in Seven Corners on Oct. 14, 2002. They were attempting to fit an oversized shelf into their car parked on the first level of the store's parking lot in Falls Church when Linda Franklin, 47, was shot.
Although the trial date is currently set for Feb. 25, one of Malvo’s defense attorneys predicted his trial would not take place for some time.
“The Muhammed trial is scheduled for October,” said Tom Walsh, one of Malvo's defense attorneys. “It would be a nightmare for them to try both cases at the same time with same evidence. … The Muhammed trial will most likely go first.”
But Robert Horan, Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney, said he expects the trial to take place this summer.
"There are going to be so many motions filed in this case," said Horan.
Juvenile Judge Charles J. Maxfield ruled on Jan. 15 that there was probable cause to send Malvo's case to the grand jury, the necessary step before a juvenile can be tried as an adult in Circuit Court.
"It is true that there is no eyewitness that places the defendant on any of the four crime scenes. However, the circumstantial evidence is quite strong," said Maxfield during Malvo's preliminary hearing on Jan. 15 at the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.
Despite the two-day testimony of 24 witnesses who were brought to testify by Horan, Malvo's attorneys claim that there is no evidence that places Malvo at the scenes of the shootings.
"There is no evidence, it is just not there," said Michael Arif, lead attorney for Malvo. "However loud Mr. Horan speaks, the facts don't show probable cause."
Fingerprint experts testified that the fingerprint found on the rifle seized in the arrest of Malvo and John Lee Muhammed, 42, can be matched with fingerprints on notes left to police by the snipers as well as a bag of cinnamon coated raisins. All are identical to Malvo's fingerprints.
Witnesses also say that microscopic markings on bullets fired by the seized rifle are identical to fragments of the bullets found by police at the crime scenes of some of the sniper shootings, including Franklin's.
"The evidence is the rifle that has been sitting here all day," said Horan. "It was found sitting four feet away from the defendant when he was arrested on Oct. 24."
Because the grand jury indicted Malvo, the 17-year-old, who will turn 18 in February, will face a jury trial. Virginia is expected to seek the death penalty in the case.
"At this juncture, he is clearly — at a minimum — an accessory to a number of killings in Fairfax County and Prince William County,” said Horan. “The trigger-man rule doesn't play into the game until we are talking about life or death."
Before the grand jury met on Tuesday, Todd Petit, Malvo's court-appointed guardian, said Malvo understands why he is now in Virginia.
"He knows he was brought to Virginia with the hope of executing him," said Petit.