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Quijano: Malvo sentencing 'an incredibly emotional time'

CNN's Elaine Quijano
CNN's Elaine Quijano

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Muted emotions from all sides of the court as the verdicts were read.
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A jury finds Lee Boyd Malvo guilty on all three counts in the Washington sniper killings.
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MALVO: WHAT'S NEXT
A jury recommended the following sentences for Lee Boyd Malvo:
• Capital murder/terrorism: Life in prison without parole, plus a fine of $100,000
• Capital murder/killing more than one in a three-year period: Life in prison without parole, plus a fine of $100,000
• Use of a firearm in a felony: This conviction carried a mandatory three-year sentence

Judge Jane Marum Roush set a March 10 hearing date, and at that time will affirm or reject the jury's sentence. The judge can only decrease the sentence, she cannot increase it.
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CHESAPEAKE, Virginia (CNN) -- A Virginia jury decided Tuesday that Lee Boyd Malvo should be sentenced to life in prison without parole for his role in the Washington-area sniper killings, rejecting prosecutors' call for his execution.

The verdict followed about nine hours of deliberation over two days.

CNN's Judy Woodruff discussed the jury's decision with CNN correspondent Elaine Quijano, who was in the courtroom when the decision was announced.

WOODRUFF: Tell us what you heard and the reaction of the people in the courtroom when this was announced.

QUIJANO: First of all, we should mention the jury came into the courtroom not once, not twice, but three times because of the confusion over the verdict forms.

And when they came in the last time, I was watching very closely, they did not make eye contact with Lee Malvo.

In fact, Lee Malvo was looking at them very intently all three times that they came in. He appeared to be very intently watching them. More so, some observers said, than in past times when the jury has filed into the courtroom.

And at the moment of the reading of their verdicts, Lee Malvo had his head down, he had his hands up sort of on the desk and was looking straight ahead, blinking.

That's the only reaction that we saw. Just a lot of blinking while his defense attorney, Craig Cooley, who sat immediately to his right, had his head bowed.

And as the verdicts were read, his head sank lower and lower.

At one point, we also saw another attorney, Michael Arif, who was sitting on the far right at the defense table, put his hand on Craig Cooley's back and seemed to pat him and rub him.

This is an incredibly emotional time, as you can imagine.

Craig Cooley, before the verdict was read, had been seen pacing in the courtroom as he awaited word.

After the verdict was read, the victims' families who were in the courtroom had no real reaction, no discernible reaction.

It was an emotional time for them too, obviously.

And with the confusion over the verdict instructions, they were ready about 15 minutes before the actual verdict was read. They were watching very [intently].

There were Kleenex boxes at the ready.

One person I should mention, Paul LaRuffa, a shooting victim who survived, was in the courtroom in the third room.

He sat with his head down and was not looking at anyone. He had a tissue, a Kleenex, that he just kept kind of tearing up in his hand, kind of just sort of nervously fidgeting as the jury was filing back into the courtroom.

At the time the verdict was read, [there was] no actual reaction from him. They all exited the courtroom before any of the media was allowed to leave.

I should also tell you Detective June Boyle was in the courtroom. Boyle played a very central role in the investigation. She is the detective who sat down with Lee Malvo and whose voice was heard on that audiotaped confession.

I saw her immediately afterward and she looked at me and shook her head. We asked her for any comment. She simply shook her head.

Obviously, this was very upsetting for her. She shook her head and walked away.

Members of the sniper task force did the same, filing outside silently. It was very quiet.

WOODRUFF: Shaking their head, presumably, because they felt that he deserved the death penalty? Is that what you're reading into it?

QUIJANO: That's what the prosecution had been saying in their closing arguments.

What they wanted was not vengeance. They wanted justice, they said.

They flashed the pictures of nine out of the ten sniper victims on the screen in the courtroom, in life and in death. And they were talking about how that was the verdict that the jury should return to get justice for the family members.

And the police in this case, as I said, played a central role with those audiotaped confessions that many said were so damaging because they were Lee Malvo's own words, his own thoughts on tape.

That was something that some thought they would not be able to overcome.

However, yesterday, Craig Cooley, the lead defense attorney, presented a very strong, powerful statement.

He brought a stone, a fist-sized stone, into the courtroom. And he talked about how in ancient times, jurors would participate in executions by stoning the accused, each juror, one by one.

And he urged them to not stain their stone with the blood of 'this child.' He kept saying 'this child.'

Lee Malvo was 17 at the time of the shootings.

That certainly weighed heavily on the jurors' minds.


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