Federal judge tosses out life sentences for DC sniper Malvo

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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.

Today's ruling does not apply to the six life sentences Malvo received in connection with six murders in Maryland, to which he also pleaded guilty.

On Friday, Malvo's three capital murder sentences and one attempted capital murder sentence were overturned by US District Judge Raymond Alvin Jackson of the Eastern District of Virginia. His lawyers are appealing those on the same grounds, the Post reported. A hearing is scheduled in June. I imagine the Virginia Attorney General's office will appeal the ruling.

Malvo was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the sniper-style attacks committed around the region in October 2002 along with John Allen Muhammad.

In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life sentences for juveniles were unconstitutional. "The Supreme Court has decided that the Miller rule is a substantive rule of constitutional law that is so fundamental that it requires retroactive application", Jackson concluded. Malvo then was found guilty and as part of a plea agreement was sentenced to two more life sentences without parole. Prosecutors sought a death sentence, but a jury opted for life in prison. Investigators later said Muhammad meant to kill his ex-wife, who lived in the Washington area. He executed for the killing in 2009. "But if he's going to be let out in my lifetime, I'm not comfortable with that". Malvo's entire trial was essentially a sentencing hearing, as Cooley and Arif told a life story of abuse and neglect by his mother, and brainwashing by Muhammad.

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