Guard - Malvo wanted to anger police chief

Friday, July 25, 2003

FAIRFAX, Va. -- Sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo told a prison guard that he shot a teenage victim to anger Montgomery County, Md., police chief Charles Moose and that he had intended to shoot an entire busload of children, the guard testified Thursday.

Joseph Stracke said at a preliminary hearing that Malvo spoke proudly of shootings committed by him and fellow suspect John Allen Muhammad.

Malvo told Stracke that Muhammad shot two women in Alabama and talked about cleaning up ghettos as a rationale for a killing in Louisiana, the guard said.

Stracke said he asked Malvo why he shot a middle-school student. "To make chief Moose upset, to make him emotional so he wouldn't think straight, and it worked," the Maryland prison guard quoted Malvo as saying.

Moose led the sniper investigation.

Defense lawyers are seeking to have Stracke's testimony ruled inadmissible at Malvo's trial. They argue that Stracke is a law enforcement officer who conducted an interrogation even though Malvo had invoked his right to remain silent.

Prosecutors say that prison guards do not qualify as law enforcement officers and that Malvo initiated the conversation.

Malvo, 18, and Muhammad, 42, have been linked to 20 shootings, including 13 deaths, in Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Washington, D.C. Both could face the death penalty if convicted.

Prosecutors have said the shootings carried out in metropolitan Washington during a three-week spree in October were part of a scheme to extort $10 million from the government.

Stracke, a guard at the Baltimore Supermax federal prison, testified that his conversation with Malvo began when Malvo requested a piece of fish from another guard. When the guard gave the fish to Malvo, the suspect began talking about how he always fasted before his "missions."

Stracke asked him what missions. Malvo responded, "Killing people. If you don't eat you get more oxygen to your brain," according to Stracke.

Stracke's conversations with Malvo were on Oct. 25, the day after the sniper suspects were arrested while sleeping in a car at a Maryland highway rest stop.

The prison guard said Malvo planned to shoot a pregnant woman in Baltimore but decided not to when they saw police helicopters overhead.

Malvo is charged with the Oct. 14 shooting of FBI analyst Linda Franklin at a Home Depot Store in Falls Church. He said he shot her because "she was just lazy, standing still," Stracke testified.

Malvo's alleged confession to some of the shootings after his November transfer to Virginia custody has already been ruled admissible by Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush.

Malvo goes on trial Nov. 10 in Franklin's slaying. The trial has been moved from Fairfax to Chesapeake, 200 miles away.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: