CHESAPEAKE, Va. - The jury in the murder trial of Lee Boyd Malvo got the case Tuesday after his lawyer argued the teenager fell completely under the spell of mastermind John Allen Muhammad when he took part in the Washington sniper shootings.
Defense 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.
"He was not the idea man. He was a puppet, molded like a piece of clay by John Muhammad," Arif said.
But prosecutor Robert F. 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, Horan said.
Jury deliberations begin this morning.
Malvo's attorneys have argued he was temporarily insane because of Muhammad's brainwashing, causing him to blur the distinction between right and wrong.
But Horan said Malvo and Muhammad both share the blame since "their willingness to kill, and do it for money, is common to both of them," he said.
Malvo, 18, is charged with the Oct. 14, 2002, slaying of FBI analyst Linda Franklin during the three-week rampage in the Washington, D.C., area.
Horan urged the jury to accept Malvo's confession to police last year. Malvo subsequently recanted, telling defense psychiatrists he confessed to being the triggerman to protect Muhammad, whom he saw as a father figure.
But Horan said the backtracking came only after months of prodding from "the mental health crowd."
The jury must decide if Malvo was the triggerman in Franklin's death for him to be eligible for the death penalty. A second capital murder count, which alleges her death was terrorism, does not require Malvo to have fired the shot.
Malvo has reportedly confessed to killing Keenya Cook in Tacoma on Feb. 16, 2002, the first of 15 slayings linked to Malvo and Muhammad.