Judge orders change of venue for teen sniper defendant

Lee Boyd Malvo, center, seen last fall
Lee Boyd Malvo, center, seen last fall

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Virginia judge on Wednesday ordered a new location for the trial of sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo, moving the case from the Washington, D.C., area 200 miles south to Chesapeake, Virginia.

It is the first time in a quarter century that a trial has been moved from Fairfax County, Virginia.

Fairfax County, Virginia, Circuit Court Judge Jane Marum Roush said she feared Malvo would not be able to get a fair trial in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, where the sniper attacks terrorized residents over a three-week period last fall.

"It is in my best judgment that the defendant's right to a fair trial requires that the venue in this case be transferred from Fairfax County," Roush wrote.

Wednesday's ruling followed attempts earlier this week by the defense team for John Allen Muhammad, Malvo's alleged accomplice in the sniper shootings, to change the location of his trial. The judge in that case said he would consider the motion.

Malvo is charged with the October 14 shooting of FBI analyst Linda Franklin. Muhammad faces trial in Prince William County, Virginia, for the October 9, 2002, shooting of Dean Harold Meyers in Manassas, Virginia.

Together, 18-year-old Malvo and Muhammad, 42, have been charged with 10 killings in the Washington, D.C. area last fall, and have been linked to slayings in Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Washington state in what prosecutors have said was a scheme to extort $10 million from the government.

Malvo is scheduled to stand trial in November. If convicted of capital murder, Malvo could face the death penalty.