BATON ROUGE, La. – The suspects in the Washington-area sniper shootings, both awaiting trial for slayings in Virginia, were indicted for another killing in Louisiana and charged with first-degree murder in the nation's capital.
A Louisiana grand jury indicted John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo on Thursday on first-degree murder charges in the killing of Hong Im Ballenger, 45, who was shot Sept. 23 during a robbery at the Batodn Rouge beauty products shop she managed.
Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty for both suspects. John Sinquefield, assistant district attorney, said he was unsure when they would stand trial in Baton Rouge.
In Washington, D.C., prosecutors charged the pair with first-degree murder while armed for the Oct. 3 shooting of Pascal Charlot, 72, who was killed on a street half a block from the Maryland border. The charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Washington and Louisiana — along with Maryland, Virginia, Washington state, Alabama and Georgia — are waiting to prosecute the men suspected in a monthslong shooting spree that left 14 people dead and five others wounded.
Virginia was given first shot at prosecuting Malvo and Muhammad because the state is considered most likely to impose the death penalty.
Malvo, 17, is being held in the Fairfax County jail in Virginia, charged in the Oct. 14 slaying of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, 47, outside a home improvement store in Falls Church, Va.
Muhammad, 41, now held in Prince William County, Va., has been charged there with killing Dean Harold Meyers, 53.
Ballistics tests positively linked the .223-caliber bullet used in the Baton Rouge killing with the weapon used in several of the Washington-area sniper slayings, police said.
Store receipts found in the car driven by Muhammad and Malvo also show the men were in Baton Rouge on the day of the Ballenger shooting, investigators said. Ballenger was shot once in the head and her purse was stolen.
Also Thursday, federal agents in Baton Rouge cut trees and used metal detectors and dogs to search the woods where some of Muhammad's relatives and childhood friends live.
The agents cut trees and hauled away limbs and trunks, and collected possible evidence in brown paper bags.
The scene was similar to that in Tacoma, Wash., last month when authorities searched a home where Muhammad once lived, looking for casings and bullet fragments.