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Prosecutors Say Teenage Sniper Suspect’s Prints Found on Weapon

By David Lamb

Virginia prosecutors seeking the death penalty for a teenage suspect in random sniper attacks that killed 10 people in the Washington, D.C., area last fall said Tuesday his fingerprints were on the murder weapon.

The October attacks, carried out over a three-week period, traumatized the region and led to the closing of schools, the cancellation of sports events and one of most intense manhunts ever in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Most victims were killed while doing ordinary chores, such as pumping gas or carrying groceries to their cars in a mall.

John Lee Malvo, 17, dressed in a blue prison jump suit, sat attentively but without emotion as prosecutor Robert Horan began laying out for the first time Virginia’s case against him. Malvo’s fingerprints, Horan said, linked him to three of the slayings and another attack that left a man critically wounded.

“There are a number of common denominators connecting these shootings,” Horan said.

Malvo and and his traveling companion, John Allen Muhammad, 42, were arrested Oct. 24 at a highway rest stop in Maryland. Ballistics tests connected a rifle found in their car to the sniper killings.

Muhammad, a Gulf War veteran, goes on trial first. He is being prosecuted in Prince William County, Va., for the Oct. 9 killing of Dean Harold Meyers at a gasoline station.

Horan also said the police had received two notes and two telephone calls from Malvo seeking $10 million in exchange for ending the attacks. Some of the messages contained chilling bravado such as “Get the body bags ready” and “Mr. Policeman, you can call me God.”

The first prosecution witness called Tuesday before Juvenile Court Judge Charles Maxfield was William Franklin, husband of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, who was killed Oct. 14 while loading goods purchased in a home improvement store into her car.