The Maryland Court of Appeals on Tuesday heard oral arguments on whether Lee Boyd Malvo, the DC area’s last living sniper, should receive a revised sentence under new federal and state laws. which apply to persons convicted of crimes as minors.
In 2002, Malvo, then 17, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison after a sniper spree nearly 20 years ago in which 10 people were killed and three others injured in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia over a period of 22 days. .
In 2009, Malvo pleaded guilty to his role in the murders of six people in Montgomery County, Maryland, and was sentenced to six life terms without the possibility of parole. That same year, Malvo co-conspirator John Allen Muhammad was executed by lethal injection after being sentenced to death in Virginia.
However, as Malvo committed the crimes as a minor in 2002, new laws gave his lawyers new arguments to try to secure Malvo’s release.
Kiran Iyer, a Malvo lawyer, said his client’s age was not considered when he was sentenced to six life sentences in Maryland in 2006.
Iyer claimed the judge who sentenced Malvo failed to take into account Malvo’s immaturity and what the law calls the “impaired capacity” of juvenile offenders.
Malvo’s attorney argued that the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court case Miller v. Alabama, which ruled that mandatory life sentences without parole for juvenile offenders are unconstitutional and violates the 8th Amendment. , should be applied in the case of Malvo.
Iyer also argued that new Maryland laws, including the Juvenile Restoration Act (JUVRA) that allows prisoners convicted as juveniles to seek release after serving at least 20 years in prison, should apply. Juvenile offenders imprisoned for at least 20 years can now file three petitions to try to benefit from a reduced sentence.
In recent years, lawmakers in Maryland and Virginia passed similar legislation to abolish life sentences without the possibility of parole for crimes committed by minors.
Malvo, who is currently serving four life sentences for his Virginia conviction, could be paroled in that state under new JUVRA laws. However, as it stands, he would then have to begin serving his sentence in Maryland, having to wait another 20 years to be considered by JUVRA in Maryland.
On Tuesday, Malvo’s attorney asked the court to treat his Virginia and Maryland sentences as one, noting that because of his Virginia conviction, Malvo could never be detained by the state of Maryland. Iyer called for “a meaningful opportunity to release [Malvo’s] phrases from Maryland.”
Carrie J. Williams, Maryland’s assistant attorney general, tried to poke holes in Malvo’s appeal to Maryland’s highest court. She argued that under Virginia law, Malvo will have a significant possibility of release beginning later this year in Virginia due to a state law that allows juvenile offenders to have a parole hearing after 20 years. She added that Maryland and Virginia did not violate the 8th Amendment or the Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama, due to the operation of the JUVRA laws.
She also argued that Malvo was nearly 18 when he committed the crime and noted that due to his age and the laws at the time of the murders, he was not serving life without parole.
M. is not serving life without parole, and in fact, because his sentence should not be considered as a whole. And in fact, no one is serving life without parole in Maryland anymore for crimes they committed when they were underage. 10:54
She went after Malvo’s attorney’s plea that his conviction in Maryland and Virginia should be cumulative, noting the timing and duration of the crimes he committed.
Williams argued that “Mr. Malvo had multiple opportunities to reflect on each of his 10 bad decisions and the bad decisions that were not prosecuted but to which Mr. Malvo confessed. If Mr. Malvo’s sentences s add up – if this court is to hold that Mr. Malvo’s sentences should be considered as one sentence – that would be close to a per se rule that all juvenile sentences should be added together, because it is difficult to imagine a scenario where the argument against stacking would be stronger.”