Judge tosses out life sen­tences for D.C. sniper

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - MATTHEW BARAKAT

MCLEAN, VA. — A fed­eral judge on Fri­day tossed out two life sen­tences for one of Vir­ginia’s most no­to­ri­ous crim­i­nals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and or­dered Vir­ginia courts to hold new sen­tenc­ing hear­ings.

In his rul­ing, U.S. Dis­trict Judge Ray­mond Jack­son in Nor­folk said Malvo is en­ti­tled to new sen­tenc­ing hear­ings af­ter the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that manda­tory life sen­tences for ju­ve­niles are un­con­sti­tu­tional.

Malvo was 17 when he was ar­rested in 2002 for a se­ries of shoot­ings that killed 10 peo­ple and wounded three over a three-week span in Vir­ginia, Mary­land and the Dis­trict of Columbia.

His ac­com­plice, John Allen Muham­mad, was ex­e­cuted in 2009.

Malvo also was sen­tenced to life in prison in Mary­land for the mur­ders that oc­curred there. But his lawyers have made an appeal on sim­i­lar grounds in that state. A hear­ing is sched­uled in June.

Michael Kelly, spokesper­son for Vir­ginia At­tor­ney General Mark Her­ring, said Fri­day evening that the of­fice is “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.”

He also noted that the con­vic­tions them­selves stand and em­pha­sized that, even if Malvo gets a new sen­tenc­ing hear­ing, he could still be re­sen­tenced to a life term.

In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that manda­tory life sen­tences for ju­ve­niles were un­con­sti­tu­tional. Then, last year, the Supreme Court ap­plied that case retroac­tively to sen­tences is­sued be­fore 2012.

Malvo’s first trial took place in Ch­e­sa­peake af­ter a judge agreed to move it from Fairfax be­cause of pre­trial pub­lic­ity. A jury con­victed Malvo of cap­i­tal mur­der for the slay­ing of FBI an­a­lyst Linda Franklin, who was shot in the head out­side a Home De­pot store. Un­der Vir­ginia law, a cap­i­tal mur­der con­vic­tion re­quires ei­ther a death sen­tence or life with­out pa­role. Pros­e­cu­tors sought a death sen­tence, but a jury opted for life in prison.

Malvo then ne­go­ti­ated a plea bar­gain and agreed to a life sen­tence and waived his appeal rights.

The at­tor­ney general’s of­fice ar­gued un­suc­cess­fully that the Supreme Court rul­ings should not ap­ply to Malvo. To be­gin with, while the jury in Ch­e­sa­peake had only the op­tion of a death penalty or life with­out pa­role, the cap­i­tal mur­der statute re­quired them to make spe­cific find­ings about Malvo, in­clud­ing a con­clu­sion that he poses a fu­ture dan­ger. The state ar­gued that the jury’s find­ings pro­vide the kind of in­di­vid­u­al­ized as­sess­ment that the Supreme Court re­quires to sen­tence a ju­ve­nile to life in prison.

The state also ar­gued that Malvo know­ingly waived his appeal rights when he struck the plea bar­gain.

Malvo has been serv­ing his sen­tence at Red Onion state prison in south­west Vir­ginia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.