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Sniper suspects charged with murder

FBI searches for new material witness

John Lee Malvo, left, and John Allen Williams
John Lee Malvo, left, and John Allen Williams

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SPECIAL REPORT
• Interactive: The death penalty
• Interactive: Police close in
• Interactive: Suspects' trail
• Story: D.C. area victims
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ROCKVILLE, Maryland (CNN) -- The two men suspected of killing 10 people and wounding three others in a three-week shooting spree were charged with six counts of murder each late Friday in Montgomery County.

Arrest warrants were issued for John Allen Williams, 41, and John Lee Malvo, 17, charging them each with first-degree murder in the six killings that took place in Montgomery County. (Read the charges against Williams) (Read the charges against Malvo)

Williams reportedly changed his name last year to John Allen Muhammad, but he has also used at least eight aliases, according to sources.

The two men already have been charged with capital murder in Alabama in a case unrelated to the sniper rampage, a shooting that occurred several days before the Washington spree began and that provided the clues that led to the suspects' arrest. (Full story)

The sniper spree began October 2 in Montgomery County. Other sniper attacks took place in various Maryland and Virginia counties and the District of Columbia.

Forensics tests on the Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle -- recovered from the car that Williams and Malvo were captured in while they slept at a Maryland rest stop early Thursday -- linked the gun to the sniper shootings, authorities have said.

Montgomery County, Maryland, State Attorney Douglas Gansler had said earlier he would seek the death penalty for both men, although Maryland does not allow juveniles to be executed. He said there may discrepancies with Malvo's age, and he may be older than 17.

Gansler said both suspects must "be held accountable" and authorities must ensure that "the punishment ultimately meted out fits the crime."

"These two men terrorized and instilled fear into the very marrow of our communities," Gansler said.

He added that the prosecutors from the seven jurisdictions where the sniper struck met throughout the day and they all "remain united" and are "breathing a collective sigh of relief that the two men who allegedly perpetrated the sniper shootings are now behind bars."

"The only outstanding issue at this time is which of the seven jurisdictions is best positioned to prosecute the case first," Gansler said.

Source: Malvo tried to escape

Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening Friday emphasized that Maryland's moratorium on the death penalty only applies to people currently on death row, not active cases.

"The moratorium will not have any impact in cases like this," he said.

Both suspects currently are in federal custody, and Gansler said federal prosecutors probably will decide by next week whether to bring charges, which would supersede the state charges. He said there are possible grounds for a federal death penalty case against Williams and Malvo.

Justice Department sources said their primary concern is that the suspects get "swift and sure justice" and the "appropriate punishment," i.e., a death penalty that would not be overturned.

The two men are not talking much about their alleged crime wave, sources told CNN Friday.

Malvo even tried to escape from his interrogation room Thursday by climbing up into the ceiling ducts when his questioners left the room for a time, the sources said. (Profile)

Investigators have found that handwriting samples from Malvo's Bellingham, Washington, high school appear to match the writing in letters left after two sniper attacks.

Authorities believe the teen may have been the shooter in some of the 14 sniper attacks that left 10 people dead and three others wounded in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Police in Tacoma, Washington, are also taking another look at the February 16 slaying of 21-year-old Keenya Cook. She was killed with a single shot from a high-caliber handgun as she cooked dinner in her aunt's home.

The woman's aunt, Isa Nichols, was Williams' friend. Nichols told police she first met him in 1995 and even worked as his tax accountant for his car repair business. She also told them that when Williams was going through a divorce, she sided with his ex-wife in a custody battle.

Suspect's friend wanted as material witness

Also Friday, the FBI issued a federal material witness warrant for Nathaniel Osbourne, said to be a friend of Williams'. (Profile)

Osbourne is also the registered co-owner of the blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice.

Federal agents said they only want to question Osbourne in relation to the sniper probe. They don't believe he is a suspect.

"We think he can shed some light on the investigation," FBI Special Agent Linda Vizi said Thursday.

It's believed Osbourne may be somewhere in southern New Jersey. The FBI has said it believes Osbourne is driving a 1992 Honda Accord.

Derick Stokes, a spokesman for the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles, confirmed that Williams and Osbourne co-owned the Chevy Caprice. The car's dealership title says the vehicle -- which law enforcement officials called a "killing machine" -- was purchased for $250 at Sure Shot Auto in Trenton, New Jersey.

The dealership title also lists an address in Tacoma, Washington as Williams' address, Stokes said. When the car was registered at the DMV in Camden, New Jersey, Osbourne and Williams both listed their addresses on the registration as 1400 Sheridan St. in Camden.

That location is a building which houses a Jamaican restaurant on the ground floor and an office and small studio apartment on the second floor.

The owner of the building, Mike Clarke, said Osbourne lived there briefly but Williams never did.

Meanwhile, the investigation has more ground to cover, including a traffic stop in the middle of the sniper spree.

Sources said an officer from the Metropolitan Police Department in the District of Columbia pulled over Williams and Malvo in the Caprice on October 3 around 7 p.m.

Just hours before, four people had been shot and killed in quick succession in nearby Montgomery County.

The men were stopped, the sources said, because they did not completely stop at a stop sign. The officer ran the license plate number to see if the car was stolen, but it came back clean and no ticket was issued.

Around 9:15 p.m., 72-year-old Pascal Charlot was shot in the chest as he walked along Georgia Avenue in Washington. He was taken to a hospital, where he died less than an hour later.

-- CNN Correspondents Kelli Arena and Jason Bellini and Producer Dana Garrett contributed to this report.



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