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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Fairfax County, Va. Files Capital Murder Charges in Sniper Case

Aired November 6, 2002 - 15:06   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Martin Savidge at CNN Center.
We're interrupting for a news conference in Fairfax County, Virginia, regarding the sniper case. Let's listen.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

ROBERT HORAN, FAIRFAX COUNTY ATTORNEY: ... John Allen Williams for the murder of Linda Franklin on October 14 of this year. It is a three-count indictment.

Two of the counts are for capital murder. The indictments for capital murder include one charge of committing an act of terrorism resulting in the death of Mrs. Franklin. The other is for the killing of more than one person in a three-year period. The last count of the indictment alleges the use of a firearm in the commission of the murder.

In addition to the indictment of John Muhammad, we have today charged the juvenile for exactly the same offenses for which John Muhammad has been charged. Under Virginia law, a juvenile can't be brought directly to a grand jury for a charge. We have to begin the process in the juvenile court. We have done that with a juvenile petition. And it would be my intention to ask the juvenile court to certify him to stand trial as an adult.

With filing of these charges, we are now in what I prefer to call the fair-trial/free-press rules. And under the fair-trial/free-press rules, I can't discuss the evidence. And I will not do so. That evidence is for the courtroom.

I will discuss some of the procedural probabilities or possibilities that now exist in this case. As you all know, the federal government presently has both the juvenile and John Muhammad in federal custody under federal process. The federal government, because they have both defendants in their custody, can elect, if they choose to do so, to charge them and try them in the federal court before any other charges are tried.

In the event that they choose not to do that, they can defer to one of the other jurisdictions that presently have charges pending. And if they defer to Virginia, it would be my intention to then sit down with Paul Ebert, the commonwealth attorney of Prince William County, William Neely, the commonwealth attorney of Spotsylvania County, and come to a decision as to which case is the best vehicle to use for the first prosecution in Virginia. I would hope that the decision on which case will be tried first will be strictly and positively evidence-driven. By that, I mean we will look at the jurisdiction that has the best factual evidence and commence the Virginia end of this in that jurisdiction.

I have read and seen and heard (AUDIO GAP) a number of times in the past 10 days that there is bickering and squabbling going on among the prosecutors.

SAVIDGE: We're going to interrupt the press conference, just for now. You can tell that there are some technical audio problems coming.

The gist of it there, as you heard from the prosecutor of Fairfax County -- that's actually from the commonwealth's attorney by the name of Robert Horan, saying that a three-count indictment has now been turned against John Allen Muhammad. That includes capital murder, and also against the other alleged sniper suspect, John Lee Malvo, the juvenile. There's also a request on the part of Fairfax County that this juvenile now be allowed to be tried as an adult.

This is all stemming from the October 14 shooting of an FBI analyst, a woman by the name of Linda Franklin, outside of a Home Depot -- again, a three-count indictment against the two sniper suspects, including capital murder.

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