The public cost of defending the Washington, D.C., snipers in their first trials neared $2 million, says the Washington Post. Lee Boyd Malvo’s defense cost Virginia taxpayers slightly more than $1 million, and the defense of sniper John Allen Muhammad has was about $900,000.
Both men were appointed experienced criminal defense lawyers on charges of killing 10 people in the Washington region in October 2002. Both were convicted of capital murder; Malvo got a life sentence from a Chesapeake jury; Muhammad was sentenced to death.
Prince William County, Va., police said their costs for prosecuting Muhammad were rabout $500,000. Fairfax County police listed costs for the Malvo trial as $295,751. Both the prosecution and defense incurred greater costs because the trials were moved from Northern to Southeastern Virginia to find unbiased juries.
Appeals will drive the costs higher. Prosecutors in two counties are considering whether to swap the defendants for a second trial. Muhammad would be tried in Fairfax County, where he faces capital murder charges, and Malvo would be tried in Prince William on similar charges. Fairfax prosecutor Robert Horan Jr. said he didn’t think the costs would be part of the decision-making process. “With cases of this magnitude,” Horan said, “I think you’ve just got to stick with the cards you’re dealt.” If the same defense lawyers are appointed, the defense costs for the second trials should rop because the defense teams would already have much of their work completed.
Michael S. Arif and Craig S. Cooley represented Malvo. Arif acknowledged that his $781,000 payment was “certainly a substantial amount of money. However, it was a monster of a case.” Arif noted that checking Malvo’s background in the Caribbean “took a long time to establish and put together.”