Sniper trial change of venue ‘good’

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    By Elizabeth Sands

    A change of venue for the trial of sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo is a good thing, according to Virginia resident Katie Davidson.

    Malvo received a change of venue Wednesday, July 2, after a judge ordered the case be moved from Fairfax County, Va., to Chesapeake, 200 miles to the south.

    “Don”t get me wrong, I want to see Malvo punished,” Davidson said. “But everyone here is just way too close to the case. I know that I would be thinking with my heart, not my head. It was a very scary time for this area.”

    Peter D. Greenspun, attorney for John Allen Muhammad, the second sniper suspect, expressed similar thoughts.

    “There is simply no way to take a chance – if the case is not moved out of Prince William County – of the taint that is going to occur,” Greenspun told the Associated Press. “The job is not to find jurors who can set aside the publicity, but jurors who can set aside the impact on them.”

    Prince William County”s attorney, Paul B. Ebert, opposed moving the trial, arguing that a fair jury could be found in the county, about 30 miles west of Washington, D.C.

    Kelly Shiel, a 21-year-old Maryland resident also wanted to see Malvo tried within Fairfax County.

    “That is where he killed,” Shiel said. “That is where he should be tried. I don”t think it”s going to matter where they go. The facts are the facts.”

    Ultimately, Circuit Court Judge Jane Marum Roush sided with the defense, writing in her ruling, “I believe that venue should be transferred to a jurisdiction outside the Washington-Richmond corridor, where many citizens lived in fear during the month of October 2002 as a result of the crimes with which the defendant is charged”.

    In all, 18-year-old Malvo and 42-year-old Muhammad, have been linked to 20 shootings, including 13 deaths in Virginia, Maryland, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Washington, D.C.

    Malvo is facing trial first for the Oct. 14 shooting of Linda Franklin, 47, in Fairfax County. If convicted of capital murder, Malvo could face the death penalty.

    The judge has begun making arrangements to show the trial on closed-circuit television in two locations – one for the families of victims of the sniper shootings and one for journalists.

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