Judge Rejects Guardian's Request for Criminal Records in Sniper Case

A juvenile court judge on Wednesday rejected efforts from the court-appointed guardian of sniper suspect John Lee Malvo to obtain criminal investigative records in the case.

Judge Charles Maxfield also denied a request by prosecutors to have the guardian removed from the case. Prosecutors had argued that state law does not require a court-appointed guardian for a juvenile who already has court-appointed lawyers.

Malvo, 17, is charged with the Oct. 14 shooting of FBI analyst Linda Franklin at a Home Depot store in Fairfax County. A second sniper suspect, John Allen Muhammad, is awaiting trial in neighboring Prince William County in the Oct. 9 death of Dean Meyers outside a Manassas-area gas station.

In all, the two men have been accused of shooting 18 people, killing 13 and wounding five in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Malvo's guardian, Todd Petit, had asked police agencies in Fairfax, Prince William and Hanover counties for their investigative records. He cited a provision in the law that grants guardians broad authority to obtain such records.

Maxfield rejected that as an overly broad reading but said he will allow Petit to remain on the case.

"Every time I try to get information to represent my client, they try to fire me," Petit said after the hearing. "I'm really trying to figure out why the commonwealth is trying to hide information."

Malvo's lawyers have filed numerous pretrial motions with little success. They asked for permission to hire a psychiatrist to evaluate Malvo's mental health, but that was denied. They were also denied access to other experts in ballistics, DNA and fingerprinting. It's likely, though, that they will be permitted to hire such experts later.

They have also sought unsuccessfully to have Malvo placed in a juvenile jail.

Also Wednesday, federal agents searched a gun shop in Tacoma, Wash., as part of a new criminal investigation into how Muhammad obtained a Bushmaster rifle.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms recently finished auditing Bull's Eye Shooter Supply as part of a civil investigation into whether the shop had been properly documenting gun sales. The new criminal investigation, being handled jointly with the Internal Revenue Service, arose from that, said ATF spokeswoman Martha Tebbenkamp.

The rifle used in the sniper shootings was delivered to the store on July 2. The store has not been able to produce records showing the gun was sold, even though gun dealers are required to keep such records.