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Under the Sniper's Spell?

Lee Boyd Malvo's attorneys want the prosecution to turn over information that they hope will show their teenaged client was “under the spell” of his older companion.

Michael Arif and Craig Cooley, Malvo's defense attorneys, claim there are 23 pages of police interviews that relate to witness descriptions of Malvo, 18, being "under the spell" of John Allen Muhammad, 42, during relevant times of their relationship. They claim that such evidence, which has not been provided to them, "bears directly upon the role and relative degrees of culpability of each of the two defendants."

The defense team has asked the judge to require the Commonwealth's Office to produce exculpatory evidence of Malvo being "under the spell" of Muhammad. Muhammad is being tried in Prince William County for the murder of Dean Harold Myers, 53, in Manassass on Oct. 9, 2002.

Malvo is accused of the murder of Arlington resident Linda Franklin, 47, outside a Home Depot in Falls Church on Oct. 14, 2002. Ten people were murdered and three people were injured during sniper attacks in the Washington area last October.

Circuit Court Judge Jane M. Roush will hear arguments on this motion from defense attorneys and Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. on Thursday, July 24.

Horan will have the opportunity to file his reply to Malvo's motion before the hearing.

Roush is expected to give her written ruling this week on whether or not to move the case of teenage sniper defendant Lee Boyd Malvo from Fairfax to another location in Virginia.

Defense attorneys for Malvo say it will be impossible to select an impartial jury in Fairfax and requested a change of venue at a hearing before Roush on June 2.

BOARD OPPOSES WIDENING I-66

Both publicly and in writing, County Board members took a stand against widening I-66 last week.

Board Chair Paul Ferguson sent a letter to Gov. Mark Warner (D) on Thursday, June 19, to oppose an additional westbound lane from the Rosslyn tunnel to the Dulles Toll Road.

Ferguson drafted the two-page letter in response to a request from U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R-11) and U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10) that the Governor consider the additional lane to alleviate traffic congestion. “This proposal is unacceptable for Arlington County,” wrote Fergruson.

The board chair cited the 1977 Coleman agreement, between Virginia and the federal government, which promised I-66 would remain only four lanes in the span that runs through Arlington.

Adding more lanes would pose threats to the environment, green space, local property values, safe bike lanes and transit travel alternatives, Ferguson said. Congressmen Wolf and Davis estimated an $18 million cost for widening I-66. Ferguson disputes that estimate.

The interstate was back in the public eye at the County Board meeting Saturday, June 28. “State transportation dollars should not be spent on widening I-66,” said Barbara Favola, Vice Chair of the board. Instead, any available funds should go toward extending Metro to Tysons Corner and Dulles Airport, she said, and making other improvements to mass transit.

“I don’t want to have a lot of back-and-forth on this issue because in many ways I feel this is settled,” said Ferguson. Strong Arlington opposition to the proposal, along with studies showing that wider roads simply increase traffic demands, make it self-evident that widening I-66 is not a possibility, he said.