11/09/2006

D.C. sniper sentenced to life for 6 shootings

By STEPHEN MANNING, Associated Press Writer

ROCKVILLE, Maryland- Sniper Lee Boyd Malvo was sentenced to life in prison for six murders in Maryland that were part of a three-week shooting spree that terrorized the Washington, D.C. area in 2002.

In a brief statement, Malvo apologized Wednesday and said he was now a different person from the impressionable teen who killed at the command of John Allen Muhammad, his accomplice and mentor.

"I'm truly sorry, grieved and ashamed for what I've done," said Malvo, his voice breaking.

Despite the contrition and Malvo's cooperation with authorities in their case against Muhammad, Montgomery County Circuit Judge James Ryan gave Malvo the maximum six consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.

"You could have been somebody different, you could have been better," Ryan said. "What you are, however, is a convicted murderer."

Malvo, 21, pleaded guilty in October to the murders in Montgomery County, where the series of 13 shootings began and ended in October 2002.

It is unlikely, however, that Malvo will serve time in a Maryland prison. He has already been sentenced to life in prison in Virginia for sniper shootings there and was sent to Maryland last year for a new trial on the condition he be returned after his case ended. That could happen within the next several days, said Darren Popkin, Montgomery County's chief deputy sheriff.

Malvo testified in May against Muhammad, who was convicted of the same six Maryland murders and sentenced to life in prison. Muhammad was sentenced to death in Virginia.

The Maryland trial included Malvo's chilling account of his trip across the country with Muhammad. Malvo detailed the genesis of the sniper shootings, their killing methods and Muhammad's grandiose plans for more carnage.

He also confronted Muhammad, his one-time father figure, saying Muhammad had manipulated him, turning the then 17-year-old into a "monster."

During Wednesday's sentencing, Malvo singled out two shootings that troubled him most. He said he was haunted by thoughts of the two sons of Conrad Johnson, a bus driver he killed Oct. 22, 2002. And he spoke of the pain suffered by Iran Brown, a 13-year-old middle school student, when Malvo wounded him about two weeks earlier.

"It is pure folly for me to think that they or anyone can forgive me for taking the lives of their loved ones," Malvo said.

Johnson's mother told Malvo she had overcome her hate for him, believing he had changed after being removed from Muhammad's control.

"I cannot go on hating you, that won't bring Conrad back. You've already destroyed your life," said Sonia Wills, staring directly at Malvo, who dropped his head and wept.

Along with the Washington-area shootings, Malvo and Muhammad are either suspects in or charged in shootings in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Washington state. They are also linked to unsolved murders in Florida and Texas.

Last month, Malvo told investigators in Arizona that he and Muhammad were responsible for the unsolved 2002 shooting of a man on a golf course in Tucson, Arizona.

Malvo's lawyers said they hoped to craft a broader agreement that would allow him to plead guilty to some of the other outstanding cases, but it was unclear if they had made any progress on such a deal.

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