Wed | May 22, 2019

US Supreme Court to consider whether Lee Boyd Malvo deserves new sentencing

Published:Monday | March 18, 2019 | 9:56 AM
Lee Boyd Malvo listens to court proceedings in October 2003 during the trial of fellow sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad in Virginia Beach. (Martin Smith-Rodden/AP)

The Washington Post is reporting that the US Supreme Court today indicated that it will consider whether Lee Boyd Malvo, the teenage half of the Beltway snipers who terrorised the Washington region 16 years ago, may challenge his sentence of life in prison without parole.

Malvo, 34, was a 17-year-old when he and John Allen Muhammad committed what Virginia officials called “one of the most notorious strings of terrorist acts in modern American history.”

Between September  5 and October 22, 2002, Muhammad and Malvo killed 10 people and wounded others in sniper attacks in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Muhammad was executed in 2009, but Malvo received sentences of life without parole in Virginia and Maryland.

The Supreme Court’s actions announced Monday involve the Virginia sentences and will be heard in the term that starts in October.

After a 2003 trial in which Malvo was convicted of shooting FBI analyst Linda Franklin outside a Fairfax County Home Depot store, a jury decided against the death penalty.

Instead, it recommended life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Since then, the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on juvenile murderers has changed.

It said the death penalty was off-limits for juveniles, and in 2012 said that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole were unconstitutional for those under 18.

A divided court found that sentencing a child to life without parole is excessive for all but “the rare juvenile offender whose crime reflects irreparable corruption.”

In sentencing defendants 17 and younger, judges must now consider whether a juvenile’s crime reflects “irreparable corruption” or simply “the transient immaturity of youth.”

The court has also said the rulings are retroactive.

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