Corky Siemaszko, NBC News, June 21, 2018
Lee Boyd Malvo, the younger of the two Beltway snipers who went on a killing spree in 2002 that left 10 people dead, got a gift Thursday from a federal appeals court in Virginia — a sliver of hope that he might not die in prison.
In a 3-0 decision, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled that the four life sentences that Malvo had been serving in Virginia must be vacated because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional.
Malvo was 17 when he and John Allen Muhammad fatally shot 10 people and wounded three more at random in Virginia, Maryland and Washington. Muhammad, who was 41 at the time of the spree, was executed in 2009.
Malvo’s case will now sent back to a lower court for resentencing. The judge can still give him a life sentence if he or she decides that the convicted killer is “permanently incorrigible.” But if the judge decides that Malvo’s actions were affected by “the transient immaturity of youth,” he could get a lesser sentence.
In 2012, the Supreme Court struck down life sentences without parole for juveniles. Four years later, the justices said their ruling applied retroactively to cases on appeal.
Malvo was also sentenced to life in prison for six murders in Maryland that were part of the original shooting spree, and Thursday’s ruling has no effect on them. He was denied a new sentencing hearing by a Maryland judge last August.