John Lee Malvo, 17, made his first appearance in a Fairfax County courtroom last week after federal investigators released him and fellow sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad, 41, to Virginia authorities under the direction of the U.S. Attorney General.
Malvo has been charged by Fairfax County with capital murder in the shooting death of FBI analyst Linda Franklin.
"There were no other identifiable prints on the weapon other than his," said Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr.
Horan also said a witness saw Malvo on Interstate 66 about 20 minutes after the Oct. 14 shooting in the Falls Church area.
Malvo's court-appointed attorney, Michael S. Arif, a partner in a Springfield law firm, expressed concern about not being present for a seven-hour police interrogation after Malvo was turned over to Fairfax authorities last week.
In the past few days, Arif has criticized Fairfax investigators for describing an alleged confession in various national media reports and said he intends to fight the use of any such statements in court.
Muhammad has been indicted in Prince William County for capital murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the fatal shooting of Vietnam veteran Dean Harold Meyers at a gas station outside Manassas.
Most legal observers agree the decision to give Virginia the first crack was driven largely by its broad death penalty statute. Both suspects now face a possible death penalty, something Malvo would not have qualified for in other states, particularly Maryland.
"We believe that the first prosecutions should occur in those jurisdictions that provide the best law, the best facts and the best range of available penalties," U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said.
Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore added, "In Virginia, we don't apologize for our pursuit of justice--we stand with the victims."
Throughout last Friday's detention hearing in Fairfax's Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, Horan referred to Malvo simply as "the juvenile" or "the defendant." Virginia law forbids him from releasing the name of a minor or using it in court, but Malvo was publicly identified by law enforcement officials when he and Muhammad were taken into custody in late October.
The early afternoon hearing drew a packed crowd with people curious for a look at the teenager accused of either helping mastermind or pulling the trigger in the deaths of 10 people across the capital region during a three-week shooting spree.
The pair have now been linked to 21 shootings, 14 of them fatal, in Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Washington state, and authorities continue to investigate ties to unsolved shootings in other states.
At his court appearance last Thursday in Prince William Circuit Court, Muhammad, chained at the feet and wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, stood alone in the courtroom.
When the judge asked him if he planned to seek his own attorney or have the court appoint one for him, Muhammad said, "I don't know what to say, sir."
"I thought I already had an attorney," he said, referring to his court-appointed counsel on the federal charges.
Muhammad, who was due back in court this week, is now being represented by Peter D. Greenspun of Fairfax.
During his court appearance Friday, Malvo sat next to his court-appointed guardian and attorney for the 20-minute proceeding. Dressed in a green prison jumpsuit, he rested his chin in the palms of his hands for much of the hearing. He also wore a red identification bracelet on his left wrist.
At Horan's request, Judge Charles J. Maxfield ordered Malvo to be held in the county's Adult Detention Center.
Malvo's court-appointed guardian, Todd G. Petit, argued Malvo deserved to be housed with people his own age.
Horan said Malvo was a danger to himself and others, recounting how he attempted to escape police custody shortly after his capture by climbing through the ceiling tiles of an office still in his handcuffs. He was able to crawl two offices away before crashing through the ceiling.
While the Juvenile Detention Center has held violent minors in the past, its administrator, George Corbin, told Judge Maxfield that he considered the facility to be a "medium security center at best," noting an escape from the center three years ago.
Officials said Malvo will be secluded from the adult population in the county jail.
Malvo is next scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing Dec. 5, in which Horan will be required to present enough evidence to establish probable cause that Malvo did indeed commit the crimes with which he is charged.
If a judge determines there is sufficient probable cause, Horan will then present the case in mid-December to the grand jury. If an indictment is returned, Malvo's case will be transferred to circuit court, where he will then stand trial as an adult.
Times staff writer Dusty Smith contributed to this report.