The trial of sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo will be held in Chesapeake, Va., about 200 miles south of the crime scene, a judge ruled today. Circuit Court Judge Jane Marum Roush wrote that Malvo might not be able to get a fair trial in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, where the attacks were carried out last fall, the Associated Press says.
“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,” Roush wrote.
Defense lawyers had said a change of venue was needed because massive pretrial publicity had tainted the jury pool against their client. Prosecutors wanted Roush to attempt to seat a jury in Fairfax.
Chesapeake’s City Council opposed the Malvo trial coming to their city, and judges there expressed concerns about the potential disruption in their courthouse. Lawyers for fellow sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad have also asked for a change of venue. Malvo, 18, and Muhammad, 42, have been linked to 20 shootings, including 13 deaths, in Virginia, Maryland, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Washington, D.C.