FAIRFAX, Va. - A Virginia prosecutor charged sniper suspects John Allen Muhammad and 17-year-old John Lee Malvo with capital murder Wednesday in the killing of an FBI analyst, saying he believes he has sufficient evidence to go to trial immediately.
Muhammad and Malvo, who have been accused in 17 shootings in four states and Washington, D.C., were charged with murder in the Oct. 14 shooting of Linda Franklin in the parking deck of a Home Depot store. They were also charged with using a firearm in the commission of a felony.
Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said he waited longer than other prosecutors to bring charges because he wanted to see the evidence in the case.
It remained uncertain which jurisdiction will try the suspects first. Attorney General John Ashcroft said Wednesday that the decision will be made after a "fact-driven analysis" of where prosecutors have the best evidence and the best law to bring about the death penalty.
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The two men have been accused of killing 12 people and wounding five in Alabama, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Muhammad was indicted in Fairfax County by a grand jury; Malvo was charged in a juvenile court petition, authorities said.
Investigations are pending into several other shootings, including one in Tacoma and another in Arizona.
Federal prosecutors earlier filed charges against Muhammad under weapons and extortion laws that could bring the death penalty. Federal charges have also apparently been brought against Malvo, but authorities will not say so because he is a juvenile.