John Lee Malvo, the 17-year-old accused in a series of sniper attacks that terrorized the Washington, D.C., suburbs, has told the police that he was the triggerman in many of the attacks, including the shooting of a 13-year-old boy, the Washington Post reports.
The Post, citing two law enforcement sources, said investigators were now comparing the known facts of the case to Malvo's statements in an effort to determine whether the youth is being truthful. Malvo has also claims to have slain FBI analyst Linda Franklin on Oct. 14.
Malvo and John Allen Muhammad, 41, are charged with carrying out the shooting spree over a three-week period in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. They are also accused of shootings in Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana.
In all, the two men are accused of shooting 19 people, killing 13 of them. Two other shootings are under investigation.
The shooting of the 13-year-old boy at Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie, Md., on Oct. 7 terrified parents and caused schools throughout the D.C. area to cut back on outdoor activities, field trips and sporting events.
In a related development, Malvo's lawyer, Michael Arif, criticized police for questioning Malvo without his court-appointed guardian or attorney and for leaking the alleged confession to the Post.
"The police are flooding the media and poisoning the jury pool with their own paraphrasing and subjective interpretations of statements made during an unconstitutional interrogation," Arif said.
He said the leak "suggests an insecurity on the part of the commonwealth with the admissibility of these statements."
Malvo talked to investigators for seven hours after he and Muhammad were handed over to Virginia authorities Thursday for prosecution on death-penalty murder charges. Sources told the Post that Malvo was talkative and even bragged in some of his responses, but kept quiet about Muhammad.
For a murder conviction, prosecutors must show that the defendant was the triggerman. However, Muhammad could face the death penalty even if he is not found to be the gunman under the state's post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorism law.
A Fairfax County police spokesman declined to comment on the interrogation, and Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. did not return calls Sunday.
One of the shootings for which Malvo allegedly took responsibility is the Oct. 14 slaying of FBI analyst Linda Franklin. Malvo is charged with capital murder in that crime by Fairfax County prosecutors.
Muhammad is being prosecuted in Prince William County for the Oct. 9 slaying of Dean Harold Meyers. It is unclear how Malvo's alleged confession to that crime might affect Muhammad's case.
Muhammad's attorney, Peter Greenspun, declined to comment on the case directly, but said the interrogation of Malvo without his court-appointed representatives was wrong.
"I think everybody should be concerned about that, not just lawyers," he said.
Todd G. Petit, Malvo's appointed guardian, said he went to police headquarters at 6 p.m. Thursday and asked that questioning be halted. Petit said a police commander agreed to pass on his request, then ordered him to leave the building.
Arif said he will seek to suppress any incriminating statements.