A federal judge threw out a convicted D.C. sniper’s four life sentences Friday because he was 17 when he was originally sentenced.
U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson in Norfolk, Virginia, ruled that Lee Boyd Malvo has a right to be re-sentenced in new sentencing hearings due to a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that made it unconstitutional for juveniles to receive mandatory life sentences in prison without parole, the Daily Mail reported.
Malvo, now 32, was arrested in 2002 for his role in several shootings in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia that left ten dead and injured three.
The attacks were widely covered in U.S. and international media over concerns that the sniper attacks, which were carried out from a modified car trunk, were acts of terrorism.
Malvo entered a guilty plea in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, and agreed to two sentences of life in prison without parole. A judge in Fairfax County, Virginia, also sentenced him to two additional life terms in Fairfax County.
In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional for courts to issue mandatory life sentences without parole to juvenile offenders. The Supreme Court further ruled in 2016 that the 2012 ruling could be applied retroactively to all sentences before the 2012 ruling.
Jackson, as a result of these two rulings, threw out the four life sentences and ordered that Malvo be re-sentenced in the counties of Fairfax and Spotsylvania.
The Virginia attorney general, however, can appeal Jackson’s ruling, according to Fairfax County prosecutor Ray Morrogh, who prosecuted Malvo in 2003.
The Virginia Attorney General’s 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,” Michael Kelly, a spokesman for Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, said Friday.
Kelly added that Malvo could still be re-sentenced to life in prison based on the convictions even if he is granted a new sentencing hearing.
Defense lawyers for Malvo, however, have argued that he was an adolescent who did not know any better and was influenced by his older accomplice, John Allen Muhammad, USA Today reported. They remain hopeful that these new court hearings might give him a shot at parole.
The Washington Post reported that Jackson’s ruling does not apply to Malvo’s six life sentences in Maryland that he received after pleading guilty to six counts of murder there, but Malvo’s Maryland lawyers are trying to appeal his convictions based on the Supreme Court rulings at the state and county levels. A hearing is set for June in that state.