The judge in the Lee Boyd Malvo sniper case in Virginia has ordered defense attorneys to stop giving media interviews after each day’s court proceedings, the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot reports. “I’m putting an end to these press conferences,” said Judge Jane Marum Roush. “I hate to do it, and I haven’t done it before.”
The judge acted after prosecutor Raymond Morrogh voiced his frustration over a letter by Malvo that may have been leaked to the press. Morrogh asked the judge to have defense attorneys swear under oath that they did not leak the letter, which was ruled inadmissible on Wednesday. Malvo wrote the letter before the sniper shootings began last fall. In the letter, he is said to have been asking for help out of his situation.
When Judge Roush asked the defense attorneys Craig Cooley and Michael Arif about the leak, Cooley said he did not reveal the letter nor did he know of anyone else on his team giving it to The Washington Post. Arif would not respond, saying he found such questioning inappropriate.
More mental health testimony is expected today as the defense attempts to convince jurors that Malvo was “under the spell” of John Allen Muhammad and thus insane at the time of the fatal shootings last fall. If convicted, Malvo, 18, faces a possible death sentence. Muhammad received the death sentence in a separate trial.
Prosecutors argue that Malvo took part in the sniper shootings to extort $10 million from the government in return for an end to the killings. Ten people were killed and three wounded. Extortion notes were left at some crime scenes.