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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Feds to Add to Charges Facing Snipers

Aired October 29, 2002 - 11:59   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: There are some late-breaking details on the two sniper suspects. As we've been reporting, it's the Justice Department's turn today to bring some sniper-related charges against John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo.
Our Justice correspondent, Kelli Arena, is standing by. She has some new information on what's going on -- Kelli.

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we do expect those charges to be filed any time now. In fact, John Allen Muhammad did arrive at court just moments ago in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The charges that the government is expected to file against the two men include charges of extortion -- don't forget, they did ask in notes for $10 million -- use of a firearm to commit an act of violence which caused death, and the third charge, interruption of interstate commerce through threats of physical violence.

And we can tell you, Wolf, a lot of people did stay home in the Washington area during that reign of terror.

This has nothing to do, though -- these federal charges will not impact this whole discussion of which jurisdiction gets to go to court first. As you know, there are various jurisdictions, and both Maryland and Virginia filed a series of charges against the two individuals. There is some jockeying going on as to which jurisdiction will have first dibs at presenting their case in court.

We are told by sources that the Justice Department seems to be leaning at least toward making that Virginia -- the state of Virginia, and specifically looking at two counties: Prince William County, whose U.S. attorney has a lot of experience in death penalty cases, and Fairfax County, Virginia, also a very experienced litigator there.

So, we are told by sources that there's been some discussion, some consensus-building about those two.

Separately from that whole situation, you have lots of other jurisdictions, other states, looking into some unsolved crimes in their areas, recent thefts, to see if these two individuals can be connected in any way to some of those situations.

And we do know that the men are suspected in Tacoma, Washington of killing a 21-year-old woman back in February. They have been linked to one of the weapons that was used.

There was also a shooting at a synagogue in Tacoma back in the spring. There was no one injured in that shooting.

So, it just shows you, Wolf, how much is going on, the flurry of activity and legal charges surrounding these two men.

Back to you.

BLITZER: And is it fair to say, Kelli, that the attorney general, John Ashcroft, will have the final say, who goes first in prosecuting these two suspects?

ARENA: Yes. The two individuals are in federal custody, and so, it is the Justice Department's call as to which jurisdiction to release the men to.

BLITZER: Kelli Arena, we'll be standing by. We'll be awaiting all of these developments. You'll be with us, of course, through the hour if there are some new details that do emerge.

Kelli Arena with the latest on the sniper suspects.

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