State to seek death penalty for D.C. snipers

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 28, 2002

Alabama police will seek the death penalty against the two suspected Washington snipers in connection with the slaying of a woman in a Montgomery liquor store.

According to various media reports,

an officer with the Montgomery Police Department apparently came within two feet of apprehending someone believed to be involved with a sniper case which recently terrorized the Washington area since early this month.

Authorities reported that a 17-year-old suspect arrested Thursday at a rest stop in Maryland could have been involved in the Sept. 21 shooting death of

liquor store clerk Claudine Parker.

A co-worker, Kelli Adams, was seriously injured as well.

Alabama became a focus of the sniper investigation after a caller to a sniper tip hotline mentioned his involvement in the liquor store shooting. The caller apparently claimed responsibility for that shooting and the sniper shootings, which left 10 people fatally injured. Three other people were wounded in the shootings.

Evidence found in the parking lot the night of the liquor store shootings, including ballistics, may have helped to lead investigators to John Lee Malvo, 17 and John Allen Muhammad, 42.

Montgomery Police Chief John Wilson said he believes the liquor store shooting was a random occurrence.

He said capital murder warrants were being signed for both Muhammad and Malvo, and that Malvo will be charged as an adult.

Wilson added that Muhammad had been identified from a police line-up while Malvo had been identified through other items of evidence.

Prosecutors in Maryland, however, were still hoping to map out charges Friday in the Washington D.C.-area sniper cases.

The two suspects made their first court appearances on Thursday in Baltimore, with Muhammad only facing federal firearms violations as of now. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Beth Gesner.

Since Malvo is of juvenile status, he appeared separately in a closed hearing in U.S. District Court before Judge James Bredar.

The Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle found in the suspects' car has been forensically determined to be the murder weapon, according to Michael Bouchard of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Also recovered from suspects' 1990 Chevrolet Caprice, besides the rifle, were a scope, a tripod and a sniper platform.

Said Gov. Don Siegelman, "As you know the first victims of the Washington D.C. area snipers appear to have been (Parker and Adams), here in Montgomery. Ms. Parker and Ms. Adams were shot on the evening of Sept. 21 as they walked to their cars. Ms. Parker lost her life and Ms. Adams was severely wounded."

"Since yesterday's arrest of the two suspects, my office has received several calls asking whether they will be prosecuted here in Alabama," added Siegelman. "A strong argument can be made that, because Ms. Parker and Ms. Adams were the first victims, the suspects should first be tried in Alabama. Make no mistake that Alabama law enforcement and prosecutors stand ready, willing and able to bring these individuals to justice. We will work with state and federal officials in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, and Alabama will do its part to ensure that justice is done."