A Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court judge cleared the way last week for the 17-year-old Malvo to be tried in Circuit Court as an adult, when he ruled there was enough evidence to prove Malvo had a role in at least four of the 14 sniper shootings that gripped the region last October.
A preliminary trial date has been set for Feb. 25, but both Horan and Malvo's attorneys said it will be delayed until at least this summer.
"He's a 17-year-old kid. Of course, he's not happy about being certified as an adult because that makes this a death penalty case," said Michael Arif, a Springfield attorney who heads Malvo's defense team.
Arif objected in court last week to Malvo being charged under Virginia's new anti-terrorism statute, saying it was "a response to Sept. 11, not about people shooting people individually or in great numbers."
But Horan said Malvo and his alleged mentor and accomplice John Allen Muhammad tried to "intimidate the government" to pay in excess of $10 million, "in essence, saying, 'If you want us to stop killing people, give us the money.'
"If that doesn't fit the terrorism statute, there may never be a case that does," Horan said.
Muhammad is awaiting an October trial in Prince William County for the killing of Dean Meyers at a Manassas gas station. His attorney, Peter Greenspun of Fairfax, attended last week's hearing.
Arif noted that none of the two dozen witnesses mostly local and federal law enforcement officers who testified during a two-day hearing could place Malvo at the site of any of the shootings.
But Horan countered with a federal weapons expert who testified that Malvo's fingerprint was the only one found on the Bushmaster rifle used in each of the shootings.
Horan also introduced evidence showing Malvo's fingerprints were found on items recovered from two crime scenes.
In addition, a Fairfax County police detective identified Malvo's voice on the recordings of two phone calls to police from the alleged sniper. She said she recognized his voice after questioning the teen for six hours upon his transfer from federal custody.
Arif questioned how she could be so certain, noting she was not an expert in voice recognition and did not use any special technology to compare Malvo's voice to the voice or voices on the tapes.
"If they have better experts, tell me and we'll sit down," Horan shot back outside the courtroom later.
Most of the testimony in last week's hearing came from law enforcement officials, who laid out a detailed framework for the collection and analysis of evidence in the case.
The hearing opened with emotional testimony from the widower of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, who was killed outside a local Home Depot store on Oct. 14, 2002.
Horan presented more than 40 pieces of evidence in last week's hearing, ranging from the rifle, to bullet fragments, to notes left by the alleged sniper.
One note left at the scene of the Oct. 22 fatal shooting of a bus driver in Montgomery County, Md., taunted police, saying, in part, "Can you hear us now? Do not play these childish games with us. You know our demands. ... You did not respond. ... Your incompetence has cost you another life."
The note was covered with small, red, star-shaped stickers possibly representing each fatal shooting or wounding in the Washington, D.C., region.