Sniper suspects Lee Boyd Malvo and John Allen Muhammad worked as a team, randomly killing 10 people without any particular strategy for choosing their victims, a prosecutor said in a court filing.
The legal brief filed Tuesday by Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond Morrogh is the first public document to describe the unusual relationship between Malvo, 18, and Muhammad, 42.
Morrogh said that while they allegedly acted as equals in the shootings, Malvo referred to Muhammad as his father. The two are not related.
The filing also states that Malvo made multiple confessions to the Oct. 14 shooting of FBI analyst Linda Franklin.
"It appears from the evidence so far, that this Defendant acted in concert with his co-defendant, operating as a 'sniper team,'" Morrogh wrote in the legal brief. "One would be the spotter, while the other would do the shooting. They acted as a unit.
Morrogh wrote that Malvo's confession was not coerced and was "completely voluntary. ... In fact, the Defendant was calm and rather boastful of his doings in this case."
Efforts to reach Malvo's lawyer, Michael Arif, on Tuesday evening were not successful. Peter Greenspun, who represents Muhammad, was out of town Tuesday and could not be reached.
Malvo and Muhammad are accused of shooting 19 people - killing 13 and wounding six - in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Both face the death penalty in Virginia, where they are being tried first.
The shootings include 13 in the Washington, D.C., suburbs and the Richmond area. Ten of the shootings were fatal, and the October spree terrorized the region.
The Washington Post, citing anonymous sources, had previously reported that Malvo had confessed to the Franklin shooting and several others.
Morrogh's brief said Malvo "claimed both were equals and either could call a particular shot on or off." The prosecutor said there was "nothing in this defendant's demeanor or history to suggest that he is less violent or dangerous than his co-defendant."
Morrogh said the sniper attacks appeared to be completely random, writing that "none of the victims did a single thing to provoke their deaths. They were individuals conducting the business of ordinary life when they were murdered without warning. ... There was no provocation on the part of the victims."
Malvo's confessions are unusually detailed and evidence gathered independently corroborates them, Morrogh wrote. He said Malvo has expressed no remorse for the crimes.
Nothing in the brief indicates that prosecutors have any evidence that Muhammad ever fired any of the shots in the sniper spree. But if the pair indeed acted as a team, Muhammad could also get the death penalty under Virginia's anti-terrorism law, passed after Sept. 11. If not for that law, only the triggerman could get the death penalty.
Morrogh's brief was a response to a lengthy request from Arif for any exculpatory evidence in the case. Morrogh responded that "the Commonwealth does not have evidence that casts doubt upon Defendant's guilt."