Attorney - Death penalty law valid for teen sniper

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

FAIRFAX, Va. -- The danger posed by teenage sniper defendant Lee Boyd Malvo and the vileness of his alleged crimes warrant the death penalty under Virginia law, the prosecutor in the case says.

In court documents filed Monday, Fairfax County prosecutor Robert F. Horan Jr. said he will prove that 18-year-old Malvo's crimes demonstrated a depravity of mind that makes the crime eligible for death.

However, Horan said Tuesday he had not yet decided if he will seek the death penalty.

Malvo and John Allen Muhammad, 42, are accused of shooting 19 people -- killing 13 and wounding six -- in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Horan's court filing Monday was a response to Malvo's lawyers, who argued Virginia's death penalty law is unconstitutionally vague.

Volunteers ready to count homeless in New York

NEW YORK -- More than 1,000 volunteers ventured out on to the streets of Manhattan in below-freezing temperatures early Tuesday to help the city count its homeless.

The effort was New York City's first official attempt to come up with an official tally.

"We believe that if you have a problem, you have to know what it's all about in order to solve it," said Commissioner Linda Gibbs, who heads the Department of Homeless Services.

Advocates say homeless numbers are at record highs. More than 38,000 homeless people slept nightly in city shelters as of last month, 7,400 more than the previous year, according to official city figures cited by the Coalition for the Homeless.

"We believe that there is more we can do," Gibbs said, calling the effort "part of our renewed commitment to this vulnerable population."

The department divided parts of Manhattan into small sections of about one-fiftieth of a square mile -- principally in areas known to have high numbers of homeless people -- and assigned groups of volunteers to each one. The volunteers then interviewed everyone on the streets and in about 60 subway stations.

Wife charged in snowball fight that led to shooting

PHILADELPHIA -- The wife of a man who allegedly opened fire on children after his daughter was hit with a snowball has been charged in the drive-by shooting that left a 10-year-old in critical condition.

Cynthia Powell, 36, was charged late Monday with attempted murder, aggravated assault and related charges in the attack on Ebony Smith, who was shot in the head as she and other children stood on a corner near her home.

Authorities say Powell was driving the car as her husband, Joseph Best, leaned out the window and opened fire. Best is charged with attempted murder.

Police said Best, 32, fired at least five shots at the children Sunday to avenge his daughter, who was hit in the face with a snowball as she passed children engaged in a snowball fight. It was unclear whether the girl struck with the snowball also was Powell's daughter, police said.

Virginia OKs plan for Asian oysters in bay

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- Virginia officials Tuesday approved putting a million Asian oysters into the Chesapeake Bay despite concerns that the experiment to save the beleaguered seafood industry could go awry.

Harvests of the bay's native oyster have slumped badly, largely because of disease. The Virginia Seafood Council wants to put batches of Asian oysters in Virginia waters to determine if they can be grown, processed and sold economically.

The industry group submitted a similar proposal last summer but withdrew it after scientists said the two-year experiment could lead to unpredictable ecological consequences.

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science supports the revised plan, saying it uses a more-reliable method to render the oysters sterile and prevent them from spreading.

--From wire reports

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