CHESAPEAKE, Va. - A jury convicted Lee Boyd Malvo of two counts of capital murder on Thursday. The jurors found that he pulled the trigger in the fatal sniper shooting of an FBI analyst and rejected his argument that he was insane in the weeks that he and John Allen Muhammad terrorized the Washington region last fall.
Malvo, 18, looking boyish in a canary-yellow shirt, bone-white sweater and light white khakis, sat hunched as the jury entered the courtroom late in the afternoon after two days of deliberation.
He sagged, looking stricken and sad, as a court clerk read the verdicts. His lawyers, who had frequently draped their arms around him and patted his back in the trial, made no contact with him, and deputies quickly took him from the courtroom.
Malvo's lawyers argued that he was brainwashed by Muhammad and that he should be found not guilty by reason of insanity. The jury rejected that, though it might consider the extensive evidence it heard about Malvo's troubled youth and Muhammad's influence over him in the sentencing phase.
The jury is to begin hearing testimony today in the sentencing phase. That phase is expected to last two or three days, after which jurors have to recommend whether Malvo should be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison.
The jurors include eight women and four men, eight whites and four blacks. The youngest is 23, starting a career as a first-grade teacher. The oldest is 70, a retired teacher. A third educator on the jury, 69, is a retired assistant principal and physical education teacher from New York. The jury includes a nurse, a mechanic, a legal assistant and a lunchroom monitor. The foreman, 41, is a minister.
One juror expressed qualms about the death penalty last month in jury selection.
"I'm not opposed to it," the juror, a legal assistant, 52, said. "But I wouldn't like to be a party to it."
Malvo was tried for one killing, of the FBI analyst Linda Franklin, 47. Franklin was shot in the head on Oct. 14, 2002, after shopping for furniture with her husband at a Home Depot store in Falls Church. Had the jury found nothing more than that Malvo committed that murder, he would not have been eligible for the death penalty.
To qualify Malvo for a possible death sentence, the jury also had to find one or both of two additional sets of factors, and it sided with the prosecution on both.
The first was that Malvo participated in more than one killing in a three-year period. Prosecutors relied on the shooting of Dean Meyers, 53, on Oct. 9, 2002, as he pumped gasoline in Manassas, for the second killing. The capital charges on this count also required proof that Malvo was the triggerman in Franklin's killing, a fact that he admitted in a confession last November and later denied.
The second capital count was that Malvo participated in Franklin's killing in a terrorist campaign. That count, under a recent and untested antiterrorism law, does not have the requirement of being a triggerman. Prosecutors presented evidence that the snipers tried to extort $10 million from the government.
The jury also convicted Malvo on a firearms charge.
Last month, Muhammad was convicted of killing Meyers by a jury in Virginia Beach. That jury sentenced him to death under variations on the same two counts.
The judge in that case, LeRoy Millette Jr., interpreted the triggerman requirement broadly, letting prosecutors argue that Muhammad qualified, even if he was just the captain of a two-member killing team rather than the actual gunman.
In Malvo's case, Judge Jane Marum Roush required the jury to find that Malvo was literally the triggerman.
Relatives of Franklin, Meyers and other victims sat in the second row as the verdicts were read. They followed the judge's admonitions to remain quiet and not express emotion.
Jurors heard from 140 witnesses over six weeks, many of whom testified for just minutes. They saw hundreds of exhibits like the Bushmaster rifle used in the allegedly used in the shootings, photographs of victims, Malvo's school records and audiotapes of his confessions two weeks after being arrested. The weapon has been linked to Bull's Eye Shooter Supply, a Tacoma firearms dealer, and is believed to have been stolen.
They heard from people who had been shot, from law enforcement officials, from Malvo's friends and relatives from Jamaica and Antigua and from mental health experts.
During the trial, a psychiatrist testified that Malvo had confessed to killing Keenya Cook in Tacoma on Feb. 16, 2002, the first of what is believed to have been 13 slayings in several states.