DC-area sniper should be re-sentenced, Maryland court rules

Maryland’s highest court has ruled that Washington-area sniper Lee Boyd Malvo must be re-sentenced because of U.S. Supreme Court rulings on juvenile constitutional protections made after his conviction.

Malvo had been sentenced to six life terms without the possibility of parole. He was 17 at the time of the murders.

The Maryland Court of Appeals said it was unlikely Malvo would ever be freed because he is also serving separate life sentences for the Virginia murders.

“As a practical matter, this may be an academic question in Mr. Malvo’s case, as he should first be granted parole in Virginia before his consecutive life sentences in Maryland even begin,” Judge Robert McDonald wrote in the majority. which was released on Friday. .


But it is not up to the Court of Appeals to determine Malvo’s sentence or whether he should ever be released from his Maryland sentences, McDonald wrote.

“We hold only that the Eighth Amendment requires that he receive a new sentencing hearing at which the sentencing court, now aware of the principles clarified by the Supreme Court, may consider whether he is constitutionally eligible for life without parole under those decisions,” he wrote.

Malvo, 37, is currently in custody at Red Onion State Prison in Virginia.

He and his mentor, John Allen Muhammad, shot people in Virginia, Maryland and Washington as they performed everyday tasks such as pumping gas and loading packages into their vehicles. The shootings took place over a three-week period in 2002, when Malvo was 17 and Mohamed was 41.

Muhammad was executed in 2009 after being sentenced to death.


Malvo had been sentenced to six life terms without the possibility of parole.

Malvo voluntarily testified against Muhammad in Maryland. Pleaded guilty in 2006 to six counts of first-degree murder in Montgomery County.

The prosecutor said at sentencing that year that Malvo had previously been under the sway of an “evil man” and had “grown terribly” after the shootings, the Court of Appeal ruling said.

The ruling said Malvo’s sentence was “consistent with the relevant state statute and with the State’s advisory sentencing guidelines at the time.”

“Since then, however, the Supreme Court has held that the Eighth Amendment does not permit a sentence of life without parole for a juvenile homicide offender if the sentencing court determines that the offender’s crime was the result of temporary immaturity, as opposed to permanent incorrigibility,” the decision explained .

The judgment also pointed out that the Supreme Court held that the legal restriction applies retroactively.

Justices Jonathan Biran, Brynja Booth and Joseph Getty joined the McDonald majority. Justices Shirley Watts, Michele Hotten and Steven Gould dissented.

“The record demonstrates that Mr. Malvo received an individualized sentencing process that took into account his youthful and co-occurring characteristics, and the district court knew it had discretion to impose a lesser sentence,” Watts wrote.

Hotten noted that any purported correctional finding “did not render petitioner’s sentences unconstitutional as applied.”

“Rather the proportionality of petitioner’s sentences should be weighed against the seriousness of his crimes,” Hotten wrote. “Petitioner committed some of the worst crimes in the history of the state. It was not grossly disproportionate that a heavy sentence was imposed.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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