Virginia First to Try Snipers

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Law enforcement sources say Virginia will try the D.C. sniper suspects first.

Several states, including Alabama, are waiting to prosecute John Lee Malvo and John Allen Muhammad. A trial in Virginia means both Muhammad and 17-year-old Malvo could get a death sentence if convicted of capital murder and other charges.

Two law enforcement sources say Muhammad will be tried in Prince William County for the Oct. 9 killing in Manassas, Virginia. They say Malvo will stand trial in Fairfax County for the Oct. 14 killing of an FBI analyst at a Home Depot parking lot. The two are accused of shooting 17 people, killing 12 and wounding five, in Alabama, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, Washington state and Washington, D.C.

Earlier on Thursday, federal officials dropped their own charges against Muhammad, allowing him to be transferred to state custody.

Attorney General John Ashcroft announced Thursday that the serial sniper suspects will first be tried in Virginia, where they could both face the death penalty. Ashcroft said it would be "appropriate" to have the death penalty available in the cases against John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo, and that it was one of the reasons Virginia will be the first to put the two suspects on trial.