Hodgkin­son and the Belt­way sniper

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - DEB­O­RAH SIM­MONS Deb­o­rah Sim­mons can be con­tacted at dsim­mons@wash­ing­ton­times. com.

What hap­pened at an Alexandria ball­park on Wed­nes­day does not bode well for a 32-year-old man be­ing held at Red Onion State Prison in Wise County, Vir­ginia.

Lee Boyd Malvo was 17 years old in Oc­to­ber 2002, when he and fel­low “Belt­way sniper” John Allen Muham­mad preyed on sit­ting ducks in Vir­ginia, Mary­land and D.C. Their shoot­ing spree, which al­ready had left a coast-to-coast trail of vic­tims, had D.C.-area res­i­dents look­ing over their shoul­ders for three weeks. They felt like sit­ting ducks un­til the snipers were ar­rested Oct. 24 in Mary­land.

A sin­gu­lar, ter­ri­fy­ing sit­u­a­tion oc­curred Wed­nes­day morn­ing in Alexandria, when shortly af­ter sun­rise, James T. Hodgkin­son, 66, of Belleville, Illi­nois, used an as­sault ri­fle to shoot at un­sus­pect­ing tar­gets on a Del Ray neigh­bor­hood ball field. Five peo­ple were in­jured, in­clud­ing Rep. Steve Stalise and two U.S. Capi­tol Po­lice of­fi­cers. Bless­edly, no one died ex­cept Hodgkin­son.

The ball field, where Repub­li­can mem­bers of Con­gress and staffers were prac­tic­ing for their an­nual Con­gres­sional Base­ball Game for Char­ity, is in Vir­ginia, a death penalty state, and where Malvo’s ac­com­plice was ex­e­cuted in 2009.

The Belt­way snipers were con­victed of 10 killings in Vir­ginia and Mary­land, and Malvo was sen­tenced to four life sen­tences for the Vir­ginia slay­ings.

Malvo still sits in prison, known as In­mate No. 330873, as he awaits word on what hap­pens next fol­low­ing a fed­eral judge’s rul­ing in his case.

See, in late May, U.S. District Judge Ray­mond A. Jack­son va­cated all four of Malvo’s life-with­out-pa­role sen­tences and or­dered a re­sen­tenc­ing.

The judge’s ac­tion fol­lows a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court rul­ing that said manda­tory life sen­tences for ju­ve­niles is un­con­sti­tu­tional and that the high court’s rul­ing should be ap­plied retroac­tively.

So although Malvo pleaded guilty to killings in Vir­ginia and agreed to serve two life sen­tences in Vir­ginia, Judge Jack­son ap­plied the Supreme Court’s retroac­tive rul­ing. The Vir­ginia rul­ing does not ap­ply to the six life sen­tences Malvo re­ceived in Mary­land, and Malvo’s lawyers have filed state and fed­eral ap­peals there as well. Mary­land is not a death penalty state, even for cap­i­tal of­fenses.

The Supreme Court rul­ing was is­sued in Miller v. Alabama, and in the 2012 rul­ing the court de­cided that “sen­tenc­ing a child to life with­out pa­role is ex­ces­sive for all but ‘the rare ju­ve­nile of­fender whose crime re­flects ir­repara­ble cor­rup­tion.’”

From that, Judge Jack­son in­ter­preted that in Malvo’s ap­peal, a judge must con­sider whether a ju­ve­nile’s crime re­flects “ir­repara­ble cor­rup­tion” or “the tran­sient im­ma­tu­rity of youth.”

The sniper’s Vir­ginia fa­tal­i­ties were: ● Caro­line Seawell, 43, a home­maker shot out­side a Michael’s craft store in Spot­syl­va­nia.

● Daniel Harold My­ers, 53, a civil en­gi­neer who was pump­ing gas at a sta­tion in Prince Wil­liam County.

● Ken­neth Bridge, 53, a busi­ness­man who was pump­ing gas in Spot­syl­va­nia.

● Linda Moore Franklin, 47, who was shop­ping with her hus­band near a Home De­pot store in Fair­fax County.

The vic­tims in Mary­land also were in­no­cently mind­ing their busi­ness, not know­ing the snipers al­ready had them in the eye of the scopes.

The Belt­way snipers, like Hodgkin­son, had plenty of prac­tice.

The snipers, for in­stance, had been us­ing a tree stump at a home in Tacoma, Wash­ing­ton, for tar­get prac­tice. The pair also are linked to killings in Tacoma, as well as Ari­zona, Louisiana and Alabama.

Hodgkin­son shot at trees too, ac­cord­ing to a neigh­bor of more than 20 years. In­deed, po­lice told him to cut it out. (SMH)

Malvo has had a lot to think about since his Oct. 24, 2002, ar­rest, and a lot of ques­tions he likely has asked him­self over and over again.

Now, af­ter Malvo called him­self a “mon­ster,” Judge Jack­son has tossed this ques­tion: Did you kill be­cause of “ir­repara­ble cor­rup­tion” or did you kill be­cause of “the tran­sient im­ma­tu­rity of youth?”

And Malvo, 32, gets to ask him­self over and over and over again, “Why did I prey on sit­ting ducks?”

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