WASHINGTON - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is defending his signature on a bill rewriting sentencing rules for juveniles on Tuesday - and the result has convicted D.C. sniper killer Lee Boyd Malvo agreeing to withdraw his Supreme Court case that claimed his sentence was unfair because he was not eligible for parole.
Governor Northam told FOX 5 on Tuesday that his decision to sign the new law had more to do with fixing Virginia’s old law denying parole to minors than it did Lee Boyd Malvo.
Given the nature of the DC Sniper killing spree, the Governor says it’s unlikely Malvo would ever be released from prison, but that the old law was unfair.
“He has counts in the state of Maryland so it would be a long time. But it’s not so much about him. It’s about the hundreds of people who are incarcerated right now and were tried as juveniles and we want them to have an opportunity for a second chance,” Northam said.
The new law means people serving the life terms for crimes committed as minors will be considered for parole after serving 20 years.
Malvo was 17 in 2002 when he and John Muhammad shot and killed 10 people, and left three wounded.
Muhammad was executed by the state of Virginia, and Malvo was sentenced to life prison with no chance of parole.
The Supreme Court was considering resentencing Malvo after recent rulings barring mandatory life sentences for juveniles.
Former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler prosecuted Malvo when he was State’s Attorney in Montgomery County. He says this is why he pushed ahead with the Maryland case even after Malvo was convicted in Virginia.
“Six people were murdered in Montgomery County and should have their day in court, was that we were worried and concerned about what might happen in Virginia down the road. And this has happened, so even in the event that Malvo were to be paroled, he would then have to serve six life sentences in Maryland,” Gansler said.
Malvo’s life term in Virginia remains in effect, though he will have a chance at parole in early 2024.
Gansler says it’s unlikely he’d be paroled, and his sentences in Maryland make it unlikely he’d ever be released from prison.
But Gov. Northam says his goal in signing the law was fairness for other juvenile offenders.