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Malvo: The Sniper Or Spotter?

Lee Boyd Malvo told police soon after he was arrested that he was the triggerman in the Washington-area sniper shootings. He later told mental health experts he was only a spotter.

Prosecutors plan to let jurors hear from survivors of shootings linked to Malvo as they present witnesses this week to support their argument that the teen told police the truth and lied to the psychiatrists.

Although police said he confessed to the shootings after his capture, Malvo changed his story months later in interviews with defense mental health experts, saying John Allen Muhammad was the shooter in all but one of the 10 killings.

"We're trying to prove the defendant is lying to them," prosecutor Raymond Morrogh told the judge Thursday before court adjourned for a long weekend.

Malvo's attorneys contend he was insane during the attacks — that he was so brainwashed by Muhammad, whom he considered his father, he did not know right from wrong.

Defense mental health experts testified last week that Muhammad spent months indoctrinating Malvo by controlling Malvo's diet and exercise, telling him blacks were oppressed by the white government, teaching him to fire weapons, exposing him to violent movies and video games and isolating him from family and friends.

The last defense witness, psychiatrist Neil Blumberg, said the indoctrination left Malvo legally insane at the time of the killings. He said Malvo, now 18, confessed to the shootings because he wanted to protect Muhammad.

Prosecutors plan to begin rebuttal testimony by presenting their own mental health experts, as well as evidence about the other shootings.

Ultimately, "it's not so much a matter of whether the kid lied," said Radford University criminal justice professor Tod Burke. "It really comes down to whose experts you believe the most."

Defense attorney Craig Cooley objected to the additional prosecution testimony, saying rebuttal witnesses are supposed to counter what the defense witnesses told jurors, not what Malvo told the witnesses.

Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush ruled against Cooley, saying that if Malvo is "an unreliable informant about his history ... isn't that something the jury should consider in determining whether the expert's opinion is credible?"

Malvo is being tried in the slaying of FBI analyst Linda Franklin at a Home Depot parking lot.

A jury in Virginia Beach convicted Muhammad last month of killing Dean Harold Meyers at a northern Virginia gas station. The jury recommended that Muhammad be put to death.

By Sonja Barisic

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