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Family Members of Sniper Victims React to Malvo Sentence

Aired December 23, 2003 - 16:36   ET


PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Judy Woodruff has more for us right now. We have breaking news in our Washington, D.C. bureau on the sentence in the Lee Boyd Malvo case -- Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: We're taking you directly to Chesapeake, Virginia, where some family members are reacting to the sparing the life of Lee Boyd Malvo in the sniper shootings.


VICTORIA BUCHANAN SNIDER, SISTER OF SNIPER VICTIM: As most of you know, I've been attending the trial since October 15. I've been at both trials.

And I really -- first off, I just want to thank the city of Virginia Beach, the city of Chesapeake, their sheriff's department, the task force, Fairfax County police, Prince William County police, Montgomery County police. And I'd like to thank all the victims advocates from Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Montgomery County, Prince William, and Fairfax. They have been terrific. And I don't think that, without them, I could have made it through this.

I wanted to bear witness to the trial and all the evidence presented. And, as many of you know that, in the first trial, my brother wasn't a part of it because of ballistics. But to me, in my heart, he was a part of it. And to all those people here, he was a part of it. And I said from that day that I would put my faith in the jury. And I did.

And today, I can't say I'm not disappointed. I am disappointed the by the verdict, because I felt that they found all the mitigating factors in this and they found him to be a danger in the future. And -- and I realize it was probably because of his age. But, to me, if you look at the law, we live in the law of our land. And I don't think there could be another case that would be more deserving of the capital punishment. And I can't say that I'm for or I'm against it. But I -- you know, I respect the jury's decision in this and I will live with it.

And -- but I want -- I want you all to realize that, as the victims' families, we have lived with this. We have lived with the deaths. We have lived with watching others die. They continued to kill. My brother was in the beginning part of it. But there are many other people from the beginning in Arizona and Georgia and Baton Rouge who are dead because of these men, who didn't try to rob, who just went up and shot and took their money, just so they could -- so, I -- I don't know what else to say.

I am disappointed, but I accept it. And I thank the jury for being 12 members that have come together. But that's really all I have to say. I want to go home and see my family and spend Christmas with my family. Thank you.

PAUL LARUFFA, SNIPER VICTIM: Like Vicki (ph), I'm also a little disappointed. And I'll try to answer some of your questions without you asking them.

And that's -- there were two people who committed the ultimate crime. One got the ultimate penalty and one didn't. I ask you why. And by a life sentence, it minimizes what this man did. It minimizes it for the victims and the victims' families. That's where the disappointment comes from. It also says, when you compare the two, was Malvo less guilty than Muhammad? Did he do things that were less? I don't think so. It's a very hard thing to fathom.

It's -- it doesn't seem to be logical. They both committed -- it's an easy comparison. You don't just have one crime, one culprit. You have two people that did exactly the same thing, yet the verdicts were pretty different. One gets to live and one gets the ultimate penalty of death. That's why I think there's what we express as disappointment.

And I don't want to speak for the others, but I spoke to a lot of people today for hours while waiting. And we went over the possibilities. And we went over this possibility. And I think we feel the way we thought we'd feel. And that is a bit disappointed in the system. I don't think what Malvo did was any less -- what he did to me or any of the others.

I'm lucky because I'm here talking to you. The relatives of these people are not here. And I don't think what he did was in the least bit less than what Muhammad did.

I don't have much else to say. I -- I hope I expressed my feelings and maybe some of the feelings of some of the other people.

Thank you.

VIJAY WALEKAR, BROTHER OF SNIPER VICTIM: First of all, I'd like to thank the Prince William County, Montgomery County and the Fairfax County police department, witness protection and the court officials. And I thank them for everything that they've done.

And, as far as the trial went, I'm not at all pleased with the verdict. I think that he should have gotten the death penalty, but I -- I don't know why they did that. It shouldn't have been a life in prison, because, even before he tried to run away -- and what if he runs away again and then harms -- you know, they already said that he's harm to the society. So what if he runs away? That's the question I face now.

So I'm not at all pleased with the verdict. I wish he would have gotten a death sentence, because, you know, for more than a month and a half, we came up here, attended the trial. And even now, like, you know, we go through the pain and suffering every day. And it's just like it's -- I'm just not pleased at all. I'm not happy at all about this whole thing.

I think that's all I have to say. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're anticipating that Mr. Cooley and Mr. Arif will be down momentarily to make some comments and possibly a member or two of the jury.

So, if you'll bear with us until we can get that together.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Mr. Cooley and Mr. Arif are the defense attorneys, the attorneys that represented Lee Boyd Malvo, who did not get the death sentence. He got life without the possibility of parole. We heard some of the family members of the victims expressing their disappointment.

Much more coverage of this coming up at the top of the hour on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." Also, we'll break in if there are additional news conferences. And we'll get more on this historic decision, this verdict, in Chesapeake, Virginia.


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