Lee Boyd for the Prosecution

Lee Boyd Malvo is testifying now for Maryland prosecutors against his former mentor and sniper cohort John Allen Muhammad in what surely will be the most dramatic if not the most important testimony of the latter's murder trial. For the first time publicly, and under oath, Malvo will recount the events leading up to the deadly shooting spree in 2002, for which he already is serving a Virginia life sentence (and for which Muhammad already is on Virginia's death row).

Although I have never been a big fan of re-trying people who already are serving capital sentences, and even though last week I criticized prosecutors for putting the victims through another trial, I can see how Malvo's public accounting, alone, might begin to justify the time and expense it is costing Maryland to pile on punishment for Muhammad. Apart from destroying any defense case Muhammad may have ginned up for himself, Malvo's confessional should serve to give the victims of the sniper attacks, as well as the millions of other people who were indirectly affected by it, some measure of explanation about what happened, and why, and how it may be prevented from happening again.

Malvo's long hours on the stand won't gain him much sympathy from jurors-- and they shoudln't. In addition to sealing Muhammad's fate in this trial, Malvo's testimony is for posterity, for the history books, and for a fuller body of knowledge about a series of episodes that gripped the nation and nearly paralzed a region. And if he accomplishes all that by offering a true and complete account of what happened then he will finally have done a little good for a society he was told by his "father" to hate.

I'll post more later on Malvo's day in court after his testimony has gone on for a while.

By  |  May 23, 2006; 11:00 AM ET
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