Judge overturns life without parole sentence for DC sniper Lee Boyd Malvo
WASHINGTON - A federal district court judge has overturned the sentence of Lee Boyd Malvo, one of the two people convicted in D.C.-area Beltway sniper attacks nearly 15 years ago, according to a ruling released Friday.
Malvo was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the sniper-style attacks committed around the region in October 2002 along with John Allen Muhammad. Ten people were killed and three others were shot during a three-week period.
Malvo appealed to the court saying he should not have been sentenced to life without parole because he was 17 years old at the time of the murders and he based his appeal on the Supreme Court ruling in Miller v. Alabama.
The decision in the Supreme Court case ruled juveniles are constitutionally different from adults for the purposes of sentencing "because juveniles have diminished culpability and greater prospects for reform," which makes them "less deserving of the most severe punishments." Judge Raymond Jackson agreed and made his ruling to vacate Malvo's sentence.
Malvo was convicted in one trial in Virginia and entered an Alford plea in another. He had previously filed two motions for writs of habeas corpus that failed.
Now, Malvo's case has been remanded back to Spotsylvania County Circuit Court to issue a new sentence.
Muhammad and Malvo used a rifle to shoot over a dozen people from a modified trunk of a Chevrolet Caprice in random attacks in Maryland, Virginia and D.C.
Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh, who helped prosecute Malvo in 2003, said the Virginia attorney general can appeal Jackson's ruling. If not, Morrogh said he would pursue another life sentence, saying he believes Malvo meets the criteria for a harsh sentence.
The Virginia Attorney General's Office said in a statement, "We are reviewing the decision and will do everything possible, including a possible appeal, to make sure this convicted mass murderer serves the life sentences that were originally imposed."
Malvo, now 32 years old, is currently being held at Red Onion State Prison, a super-maximum security prison in Virginia.
Muhammad was executed in 2009 for the killings.
Information from the Associated Press used in this report.