Federal judge tosses out life sentences for DC sniper Malvo

A federal judge Friday ordered new sentencings for Lee Boyd Malvo, one of the two men convicted after a string of sniper shootings that terrorized the Washington, D.C. area in the fall of 2002.

Malvo was 17 when he was arrested in 2002 for the shootings in D.C. Malvo was sentenced to life without parole along with John Allen Muhammad, then 42.

Muhammad was put to death for his role in the spree in 2009.

Malvo also was sentenced to life in prison in Maryland for the murders that occurred there. And in 2016, it said that holding applied retroactively to cases on appeal.

In his 25-page ruling, Norfolk-based federal district judge Raymond A. Jackson vacated Malvo's sentenced and remanded the case to Spotsylvania County Circuit Court for appropriate sentencing.

Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh, who helped prosecute Malvo, said the Virginia attorney general can appeal Jackson's ruling.

In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life sentences for juveniles without the possibility for parole were unconstitutional.

Malvo pleaded guilty and agreed to serve two life sentences in Spotsylvania County. 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 Supreme Court ruled in 2012, in Miller v. Alabama, that "sentencing a child to life without parole is excessive for all but 'the rare juvenile offender whose crime reflects irreparable corruption.'" So 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", Jackson wrote.

She said she has forgiven Malvo and knows that he was brainwashed by the older, imposing Muhammad.

Malvo, now 32 years old, is currently being held at Red Onion State Prison, a super-maximum security prison in Virginia.

In an interview with the Washington Post a few years back, Malvo said, "I mean, I was a monster".

  • Joanne Flowers