BATON ROUGE, La., Nov. 14 (UPI) -- An East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury Thursday indicted the Washington, D.C. region sniper suspects on first-degree murder charges in the slaying of a 45-year-old woman during a Sept. 23 robbery in Baton Rouge.
John Muhammad, 41, and John Malvo, 17, allegedly shot and killed Hong Em Ballenger outside the Beauty Depot, a beauty products store she managed. Investigators later linked the .223-caliber bullet that killed Ballenger to the rifle used in the D.C. slayings.
John Sinquefield, first assistant district attorney for Baton Rouge Parish, said the death penalty would be sought for both men. He said the 17-year-old Malvo is considered an adult under Louisiana criminal law and eligible for the death penalty.
Sinquefield also said Louisiana would seek to try the men as soon as possible although officials realize a number of states are interested in the suspects.
"While we are not going to get in a competition to get them here first, we are going to insist on our right to try them," he said. "They have a date with Louisiana justice. Whether it's sooner or later, they are going to be here to face the allegations in this indictment. That's a 100 percent certainty."
Muhammad and Malvo are currently being held in Virginia where they are expected to face their first trial in connection with a shooting spree that left 14 dead and five wounded in several states.
Outside the Washington, D.C.-area, they are also suspects in shootings in Alabama, Georgia, Washington state, Arizona and Louisiana.
Baton Rouge police announced Nov. 1 that the Louisiana State Police Crime lab had linked the bullet in the slaying of Ballenger to the rifle used in the sniper killings. They said they found additional evidence in the car the suspects used during the crime spree linking them to the Baton Rouge slaying.
Muhammad grew up in Baton Rouge and has a former wife and son and other relatives who live in the area. He was known to have visited the area earlier this year to visit some of his relatives.
Ballenger, a Korean native and mother of three, was shot in the head about 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 23 in the parking lot of the Baton Rouge shop. There were witnesses to the crime, but police have refused to release any other details of their case.