By: Foster Klug, Associated Press Writer
(AP) A federal judge said Wednesday he needed more information before ruling on a request by news organizations to open the sealed juvenile records of 17-year-old sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo.
Lawyers representing The Associated Press, The Sun of Baltimore, The Washington Post, and The New York Times have filed motions with U.S. Magistrate Judge James Bredar seeking the federal records.
Bredar told the news organizations’ lawyers to provide him with transcripts of open hearings from Fairfax County, Va., where Malvo’s case has been transferred, by Monday afternoon. He said he would compare those records with items under seal to determine what has been released, what information might be harmful to Malvo, and what the public has a right to know.
Bredar said Malvo deserved protection as a juvenile, but there was also the “enormous … interest of the public and the press in knowing what goes on in this building.”
After hearing similar motions Nov. 1, Bredar decided to keep the juvenile records sealed. Since then, however, Malvo has been transferred out of federal custody and a Fairfax County judge has cleared the way for him to be tried as an adult.
Lisa Duggan, an attorney for the news organizations, told Bredar on Wednesday that because Malvo is being treated as an adult in the Virginia case, there’s no longer a need to keep the information sealed.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Copperthite told the judge he did not think the federal file contained anything still secret.
But Todd Petit, Malvo’s court-appointed guardian, said the records contained possibly harmful details not previously discussed in open court.
Malvo and John Lee Muhammad are accused of shooting 19 people, killing 13 and wounding six in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.