FAIRFAX, Va. – Jailed sniper suspect John Lee Malvo, whose lawyers claim his right to privacy and other rights have been violated by his guards, was denied a request for a court order requiring better treatment.
Juvenile Court Judge Charles Maxfield refused to grant the order Friday. Defense lawyers had claimed that their 17-year-old client's mattress is too thin, he has been denied reading material, his cell lights glare 24 hours a day and he is being denied vegetarian meals.
"This is about the right to human dignity," lawyer Michael Arif told Maxfield.
In Connecticut, a man accused of obtaining fraudulent identification papers with help from the other sniper suspect, John Allen Muhammad, was arrested Friday in Connecticut, The Washington Post reported.
Malvo is being kept at the Fairfax County jail, an adult facility, despite efforts by his lawyers to put him in a juvenile jail. Arif said the sheriff's office has addressed some concerns -- for instance, Malvo now has a curtain in his cell so he can bathe and use the toilet in privacy.
But Maxfield refused to intervene on the other issues.
"You're going to have to present a lot more evidence" of inhumane treatment, Maxfield said, to merit further intervention.
Prosecutor Robert Horan Jr. called Arif's motion "slightly short of frivolous."
"Jail is not a nice place," Horan said after the hearing. "But it's better than the front seat of a Chevy Caprice." The car served as a home to Malvo and Muhammad, and authorities believe they fired shots from the Caprice during last month's sniper spree.
Arif said after the hearing that his client is being kept in isolation. He said Malvo's cell has a checker table but no checkers, so he uses torn pieces of a business card to play the game against himself.
Muhammad, 41, and Malvo are charged with capital murder and other counts in the string of shootings that left 10 people dead and three wounded. They also are charged with fatal shootings in Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia and are suspected in a shooting in Washington state.
Malvo is awaiting trial in the Oct. 14 slaying of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, 47, outside a home improvement store in Falls Church, Va.
Muhammad, being held in neighboring Prince William County, is charged there with killing Dean Harold Meyers, 53, at a gas station.
The man arrested in Connecticut -- who has used at least five names including John Edwards Jr. and Norman Manroe -- was wanted for questioning by investigators tracking the movements of Muhammad and Malvo, according to a story for Saturday editions of the Post.
Bridgeport police and state police said they had no information about the arrest. A spokeswoman for the FBI did not immediately return a telephone message left by The Associated Press.
Officials at the Bridgeport Correctional Center said they had a Norman Manroe on the jail roster, but had no other information.
Muhammad lived on the Caribbean island of Antigua in 2000 and 2001. John Fuller, the head of an Antiguan task force assisting in the investigation, said last week that Edwards, a Jamaican, allegedly used documents supplied by Muhammad to obtain an Antiguan passport.
Edwards has also been accused of applying for a U.S. passport in Barbados using a U.S. birth certificate allegedly supplied by Muhammad, Fuller said. The U.S. embassy rejected the application.
Earlier Friday, a Virginia judge denied a request by defense lawyers in the sniper shootings to impose a gag order on police and the FBI, despite leaks to a newspaper.
Fairfax County Circuit Judge M. Langhorne Keith said he shared lawyers' outrage over the leaks. But he said he had no authority to issue an order affecting the FBI. And he said he needed more evidence that Fairfax County police were responsible for leaking information to The Washington Post.
Muhammad's defense team made the request in response to a Post story that cited unidentified sources as saying Malvo had confessed to some of the shootings in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., last month.
Robert Ross, a lawyer representing Fairfax County police, said in court the gag order would "act as a prior restraint on the actions of the police and how they do their job."
Although Malvo reportedly did not implicate Muhammad in his statements to police, Peter Greenspun, a lawyer for Muhammad, said the leaks could damage his client by tainting the jury pool for his trial.
Meanwhile, a Jamaican immigrant taken into custody as a material witness in the sniper cases has been released from house arrest. Nathaniel Osbourne, 26, and Muhammad jointly purchased the car authorities say was used in the shootings.