After squabbling among the feds, Maryland, and Virginia over which jurisdiction would try Malvo and Muhammad, it was determined that Muhammad would stand trial in Virginia Beach for the murder of Dean Meyers. Malvo would be tried in Chesapeake, Virginia, for Linda Franklin's murder. For complicated jurisdictional reasons, government officials chose to try the snipers for those two killings. Virginia courts were select-ed because of their vigorous use of the death penalty.
The trials were held in 2003. The courts decided neither man would get a fair trial in the Washington area.
Bruce Guth, supervisor, Virginia Prosecution Sniper Task Force: "We rented a building in Centreville and built a reinforced room with a safe to hold evidence. For Malvo we had 240 witnesses, and over half had to fly in; we had to pay per-diems and hotels. We took the little circus to Virginia Beach and rented out a hotel wing. We ended up living at Virginia Beach for the trials for almost six months. I'd say it cost a couple million dollars between the two of them.
"We were working 18 hours a day for months. It was the most professionally challenging thing I'd ever been involved with. We became so close over that year and a half preparing and the other six months of trials that I knew about everyone's kids. It was very demanding, though. I ended up with an ulcer."
Iran Brown, who was shot outside his school at age 13: "The FBI told me to not look at Muhammad during the trial. They thought he would try to intimidate me. But I did anyway. I'm not in fear of either one. It was a crazy time, but I feel like I have handled it as productively as I possibly can."
Vickie Snider, sister of victim Sonny Buchanan: "I went away every week and left my family to attend the trials. My conclusion was, and so many people will differ, but I believe Malvo was the shooter in most of them. But Malvo confessed to only two—Iran Brown and Conrad Johnson. And maybe Jeffrey Hopper. Conrad was the only one who died.
"I don't think we'll ever know why they did it. A lot of people had sympathy for Malvo because he was young. I don't believe he was brainwashed. I believe they both enjoyed what they were doing."
Tom Walsh, attorney for Malvo: "What sticks out is Conrad Johnson's wife at the trial. Her testimony was so compelling. She didn't have anger toward Lee. It was more about how it affected her life. She talked about how Conrad Johnson would write love things on the mirror in the morning and then was gone forever. She wasn't lashing out at Lee the way Pascal Charlot's daughter screamed that he was evil. Linda Franklin's husband's 911 tape was just devastating. The horror in his voice will never leave me. They were picking up some hardware stuff, and the next thing you know she's gone.
"For Malvo, our goal was to save his life."
Dr. Caroline Namrow, physician who tried to save Premkumar Walekar at the scene of his shooting: "I went to both trials for Muhammad and Malvo. Malvo's was most disturbing. He looked so young. And he was proud—he described what he had done in graphic detail for the detectives. At his trial, he was doodling on his pad and was very detached. It was shocking."
Malvo, now 27, was sentenced in March 2004 to life without parole after being convicted of two capital crimes. He is in the maximum-security Red Onion State Prison near Pound, Virginia.
Larry Traylor, director of communications, Virginia Department of Corrections: "Malvo is in segregation status. Because of that, he is not eligible for interviews. About the only thing you could do is write to him regularly. He has been in administrative segregation since he arrived. This was done due to his notoriety, crime, and his young age."
On November 10, 2009, John Allen Muhammad was put to death by injection at Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Virginia.
Charles A. Charlot, Pascal Charlot's cousin: "I went to the trial and then said, 'I'm not going to watch the execution.' My cousin was maybe suffering when he got the bullet—I didn't want the memory of seeing that man die peacefully."
Paul LaRuffa, shooting victim: "I told them I wasn't going to the execution. I wrote a letter to be read to the people there about why I wasn't there. I understood why they were, but I wasn't going to let him waste another day of my life. I did not need to see him die to make me feel better."
Marion Lewis, father of Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera who, with his daughter's husband, Nelson, witnessed Muhammad's execution: "As far as I'm concerned, the kid should have died, too. That's not going to happen—I've accepted that. Maybe he can do something to appease God so he doesn't burn in hell.
"My wife and I have always been proponents of capital punishment. My only misgiving was that Muhammad died too easily. They stuck a needle in his arm.
"Yeah, there was some comfort. Nelson and I watched while he died, and then we went to dinner and were in a lot better mood. After feeling justice had been served came the realization this man was no longer in existence. He wasn't worth the time we spent thinking about him. I thought about him for a brief moment the other day when they announced they were going to execute a murderer in Idaho. I think about my daughter quite often."
Andrea Walekar-Hempstead, whose father, Premkumar Walekar, was killed: "The execution was creepy. It looked more like a medical procedure. I was hoping it would bring some closure, but it didn't. I actually felt bad for Muhammad's kids. These kids don't have a father, just like I don't have one."
Iran Brown, shooting victim: "I got invited, but there were so many victims involved that they didn't have a seat for me, so they offered me a seat in the overflow room. I did not attend. If I had had a seat behind the glass to see him executed, I definitely would have. Watching him die would have been part of the process.
"Malvo was the one who actually shot me. I could never wish death upon anybody—even Muhammad. I feel only God can judge us. From what I heard from people who have had contact with Malvo, he showed a little remorse, as opposed to Muhammad, who showed no remorse to me.
"I plan on seeing Malvo one more time. I want to visit him—just to let him know he couldn't break me. Whatever their goals were, I want to let him know they failed. I want to let him know I have forgiven him."
Andrea Walekar-Hempstead, whose father was killed: "My dad has missed out on so much. He wasn't there to walk me down the aisle or for the father/daughter dance. I did a slide show of him at the wedding. There's a Luther Vandross song, 'Dance With My Father,' that we played. I think I have made peace with his death, but I wonder if he would be proud of me."
Greg Clontz, who was friends with victim Sonny Buchanan since seventh grade: "I would not have met my wife, Jodi, had Sonny not been killed. We met at the funeral. She knew I was real close to Sonny, and we got talking. After about a year, we got married and have been together eight years or so. I also got a stepdaughter. Jodi also helps with Sonny's Kids Foundation."
Vickie Snider, victim Sonny Buchanan's sister, secretary of Sonny's Kids Foundation: "My son said Uncle Sonny always wanted to start a foundation, and we can carry out things he believed in. There was such an outpouring, and people were sending money. I just put it in Sonny's Kids. So far, around 30 kids have gotten scholarships. As of last year, we've given $117,590 through our golf tournaments.
"Not a day goes by that something doesn't remind me of Sonny. A song on the radio. A shooting star. A beautiful garden. Malvo and Muhammad may have taken his life but not his love."
Charles A. Charlot: "I would like to stop because I miss my cousin very much, and you are bringing things back. Please don't call back. It will be the same pain, and I will not get my cousin back by talking about him."
Alicia Shepard, former NPR ombudsman, is a visiting journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appears in the October 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.