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Judge in Malvo Case Won't Allow Testimony From Afar

October 17, 2003|From the Baltimore Sun

FAIRFAX, Va. — Defense attorneys for sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo hit a snag Thursday when a judge ruled that as many as 25 potential witnesses for the teenager, including his mother, could not testify by videoconference from the Caribbean and other far-flung places.

Videoconferencing technology, akin to that used in closed-circuit television, allows a witness in a distant location to be questioned by lawyers in the courtroom, with the jury watching the responses on a large screen.

"Right now, we consider it a major setback," Mark J. Petrovich, one of five defense lawyers, said after the hearing.

The decision by Fairfax County Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush means that Malvo's lawyers will have to scramble to try to get government permission for his mother, Una James, to reenter the country to testify at the capital murder trial.

James was deported last December to Jamaica, having arrived in the United States in 2000 from Antigua with fake travel documents she bought from Malvo's co-defendant, 42-year-old John Allen Muhammad.

"We will have to pursue other options to try to get her into the country," Petrovich said. He would not elaborate.

He described her testimony as "critical" to the defense of the 18-year-old.

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