A judge ordered prosecutors Monday to turn over statements that sniper suspect John Lee Malvo may have made to police regarding two of the shootings.
Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge Kimberly Daniel ordered the statements turned over to the defense by Jan. 8. She also denied a request by attorneys for Malvo, 17, to postpone the Jan. 14 preliminary hearing in the death of Linda Franklin.
Malvo and John Allen Muhammad, 41, are suspected in 21 shootings - 14 of them fatal - in five states and Washington, D.C., including the October sniper attacks that terrorized the capital region.
The two are being tried first in Virginia, where they face capital charges. Malvo is charged in Franklin's slaying Oct. 14 in Falls Church, while Muhammad is charged in the Oct. 9 shooting of Dean Harold Meyers in Manassas.
The judge's order covers any statements Malvo may have made about either of those two slayings.
Prosecutors had argued that they weren't required under the law to turn over statements before a preliminary hearing unless the defense had a compelling reason to examine them early in the process.
"Under the rules they're not entitled what they were given today," Fairfax County prosecutor Robert Horan said. If the case ends up in circuit court for trial, then the defense is entitled to the information, Horan said.
But the judge said she thought the defense had a compelling interest to be given the information early: "I believe there is good cause because of the complexity and severity of this case."
The defense also cited news reports that investigators had recorded statements made by Malvo.
"To deny us access to the recordings is a denial of due process," said lead defense attorney Michael Arif. "Everyone in the free world seems to have Malvo's statements except the defense."
The Washington Post reported in November that police spent seven hours interrogating Malvo after he was sent to Fairfax County to be prosecuted in the Franklin slaying. Malvo's court-appointed guardian, Todd Petit, said he asked investigators to end the questioning but was brushed aside.
Both the Post and The New York Times have reported that Malvo confessed to being the shooter in some of the sniper shootings, and the Times said investigators concluded that Malvo may have been the triggerman in most if not all of the killings.
Horan denied the media reports.