Sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo “was nobody's fool” and appeared to have no mental illnesses during a series of killings last year, Stanton Samenow, a clinical psychologist, testified yesterday. “Mr. Malvo knows exactly what he's doing,” Samenow said, the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot reports. Samenow was one of four prosecution witnesses on the case’s final day of testimony. Closing arguments are expected today.
Samenow's testimony was intended to challenge the defense's argument that Malvo was insane during the sniper attacks. The psychologist, who spent more than 34 hours with Malvo last month, contradicted earlier testimony from defense experts who found the teen to have mental illnesses.
If convicted of capital murder, Malvo, a Jamaican national, faces a potential death sentence. The 18-year-old has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, arguing he was “under the spell” or brainwashed by John Allen Muhammad, an alleged accomplice in the crimes.
Samenow said Malvo was not easily led. During one meeting, Malvo told Samenow: “I don't take anything for face value. I'm not impressionable. I'm not weak-minded.”
Two defense experts testified that Malvo was legally insane and unable to distinguish right from wrong during the sniper shootings.
Malvo is charged specifically with the Oct. 14, 2002, killing of 47-year-old Linda Franklin outside a Home Depot in Falls Church, Va.