District of Columbia sniper Lee Boyd Malvo had four life sentences deemed unconstitutional Thursday, in line with a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that mandatory minimum life sentences cannot apply to minors.
Malvo, 33, pleaded guilty to murdering six people in the Washington, D.C., area in 2002 when he was 17 and received four life sentences under a mandatory minimum law in Virginia. A federal appeals court threw out his sentences, his convictions remain and he will be re-sentenced, The Washington Post reported. The ruling also doesn’t affect the six life sentences he received in Maryland. His accomplice, John Allen Muhammad, was executed in 2009. (RELATED: Active Shooter Quickly Shot To Death In Oklahoma City)
“[The shootings] were the most heinous, random acts of premeditated violence conceivable, destroying lives and families and terrorizing the entire Washington, D.C., metropolitan area for over six weeks, instilling mortal fear daily in the citizens of that community,” Virginia circuit court judges stated. But, “Malvo was 17 years old when he committed the murders, and he now has the retroactive benefit of new constitutional rules that treat juveniles differently for sentencing.”
Malvo’s attorneys will now relitigate his sentencing, claiming that a jury would have granted a more lenient sentence had the option been available. (RELATED: DC Sniper Gets Life Sentence Overturned)
“We’re pleased with the decision, of course, and not just for Lee Malvo, but for all juveniles that are in a similar situation,” one of his attorneys, Craig Stover Cooley, told WaPo. “I think at the time we would have had a sentence of less than life without parole.”
Malvo and Muhammad threw D.C. into a terror during their 6-week murder spree, shooting six people indiscriminately while they were getting gas, going for runs, or other everyday actions.
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