Jamaican pastor Lorenzo King, who baptized Malvo into the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1999 at the age 14, testified that Malvo "appeared to be lonely. And he seemed to be searching for belonging. You could sense that in him."Malvo's conversion to Islam under the influence of John Allen Muhammad received much more new coverage than his earlier SDA affiliation. This Slate piece is an example (Dahlia Lithwick, "The Pied Sniper: Was Lee Boyd Malvo brainwashed into a killing machine?", Slate.com, Sept. 25, 2003, URL: http://slate.msn.com/id/2088893/):
"I have no doubt about the quality of his commitment. He was fully committed to the beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church," King said. "On the evening he was baptized he walked approximately two miles bringing his clothes with him."
Strangely, Lee Malvo looks like as good a candidate for a first-generation brainwashing defense as there could be. He meets Lifton's original criteria for POW brainwashing almost exactly: An individual who was isolated, degraded, forced to perform repetitive tasks, made to renounce earlier values -- Malvo converted to Islam under Muhammad's guardianship -- and cut off from external sources of information may actually claim that he's been brainwashed. And science does not disagree. The question is, will a court and jury buy it?