Psychologist: Malvo's 'Cheerful' Mood 'Quite Odd'


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) -- A clinical psychologist testified Thursday that sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo was cheerful during a daylong examination in August, a mood he called "quite odd."

"He was unusually cheerful," said David Schretlen, who teaches at Johns Hopkins University. "It was almost a goofy affect, if you will, which seemed quite out of step with the seriousness of the situation."

David Schretlen said he was immediately struck by Malvo's attitude, "which seemed really quite odd."

Lawyers for the 18-year-old Malvo, on trial for his life in the shooting death of an FBI analyst, are pursuing an insanity defense, contending sniper mastermind John Allen Muhammad brainwashed him and turned him into a killer. Muhammad, 42, was convicted last month of capital murder in another of the deadly Washington-area sniper shootings, and a jury recommended the death sentence.

Schretlen said Malvo was very cooperative and respectful and "wanted to show me what a smart person he is."

Intelligence tests showed Malvo had an IQ of 98 -- which falls about in the middle of the average range, from 90 to 109 -- but he was a bit slow on processing information, Schretlen said.

During other tests, Malvo described himself as somewhat of an introverted person, "socially alienated and detached from other people," and "hypervigiliant," Schretlen said.

"My conclusion is that Mr. Malvo produced an abnormal neuropsychological examination," Schretlen said, although he noted that many of the test results were normal.

Possible causes of the abnormal results could include depression or anxiety, Schretlen said.

"He did not strike me as being the least bit depressed" or anxious, Schretlen said on cross-examination.

Schretlen also said none of the tests indicated that Malvo was psychotic.

Prosecutors objected to Schretlen's testimony about his conclusion, saying the defense had not provided it in a report.

"We were deliberately deprived of this information," prosecutor Raymond Morrogh said, asking the judge to strike the testimony.

Defense attorney Craig Cooley said Schretlen had never prepared a written report, and the judge allowed the testimony to stand.

Prosecutors complained to the judge that they had not been given all the reports of the defense mental health experts. They said that from what they had seen, the reports did not indicate that Malvo met the legal definition of insanity.

Horan said the insanity defense is "like a puff of smoke."

The judge said she would allow prosecutors to question some of the experts about their opinions outside of the jury's presence to determine what the jury will be allowed to hear.

Earlier Thursday, Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush ordered attorneys stop talking to the news media after a letter written by Malvo appeared in The Washington Post.

Roush had refused to let defense attorneys show or read the letter to the jury, saying it was hearsay. The Post printed the letter's text Thursday and included excerpts in Malvo's handwriting. The newspaper did not say how it obtained the letter.

In court Thursday, the judge questioned the prosecutors and defense attorneys in the case.

Prosecutors said they did not leak the letter.

Cooley said the defense did not provide the letter to the newspaper, but another defense attorney, Michael Arif, refused to answer the judge's question. "I think the inquiry is inappropriate," he told the judge.

Roush also said she was "disturbed" by the daily news conferences defense attorneys had been holding after court.

"I'm going to enter a gag order because I am increasingly disturbed by this. I think it's an attempt to reach the jurors or the jurors' families," Roush said. "No more talking to the papers, no more having press conferences."

Arif had argued in court Wednesday that the jury should be allowed to see the letter because it showed Malvo's gloomy state of mind just months before the sniper spree that left 10 people dead in and around the nation's capital.

After court, defense attorneys said there may be other ways to get the letter into evidence, but they did not elaborate.

Malvo wrote the letter to LaToria Williams, a teenage niece of convicted sniper mastermind John Allen Muhammad, during a visit to Muhammad's family in Baton Rouge, La., just weeks before the October 2002 sniper attacks that killed 10 people in the Washington area.

Williams testified outside the jury's presence that she was scared after reading the letter because "he said that he was a ticking time bomb."

A handwriting expert testified Thursday that Malvo wrote the notes left for police at two of the shootings and that it is Malvo's handwriting on a Tarot card left at a shooting that was inscribed, "Call me God."

Larry F. Ziegler said he reached his conclusions after comparing samples of Malvo's handwriting to copies of the Tarot card found at the shooting of 13-year-old Iran Brown and the notes left at the shootings of Jeffrey Hopper and Conrad Johnson.

"It is my opinion that Lee Boyd Malvo is the author of those three documents," Ziegler said.

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