Crime

Maryland judge denies DC sniper Malvo’s bid for new sentence

FILE - In this Oct. 26, 2004, file photo, Lee Boyd Malvo enters a courtroom in the Spotsylvania, Va., Circuit Court. Malvo, convicted of taking part as a teenager in deadly sniper attacks that terrorized the Washington area in 2002 lost a bid Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, for a new sentence in Maryland.
FILE - In this Oct. 26, 2004, file photo, Lee Boyd Malvo enters a courtroom in the Spotsylvania, Va., Circuit Court. Malvo, convicted of taking part as a teenager in deadly sniper attacks that terrorized the Washington area in 2002 lost a bid Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, for a new sentence in Maryland. AP

Lee Boyd Malvo, who as a teenager participated in the sniper attacks that killed 10 people and terrorized the Washington, D.C. region, will not get a new sentence in Maryland, a judge said in a ruling released Wednesday.

Malvo’s attorneys had challenged his life sentences in Maryland and in Virginia, citing a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional. The latest ruling means he will essentially continue serving a life sentence even though a different judge ruled he is entitled to a new sentencing in Virginia.

“The six consecutive life-without-parole sentences were imposed after a full consideration of Defendant’s physical, mental and emotional state,” Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Robert Greenberg wrote.

Malvo, a one-time high school student in Bellingham, Washington, was 17 when he was arrested for participating in the sniper attacks that killed 10 people and wounded three in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Malvo, now 32, is serving his sentence at Red Onion State Prison in southwest Virginia.

Bellingham connection

Bellingham was brought into the national spotlight during the hunt for the so-called D.C. snipers.

Investigators discovered Malvo and his accomplice, John Allen Muhammad, lived in Bellingham for a few months in 2001 and 2002, staying at the Lighthouse Mission while Malvo attended Bellingham High School. Malvo was taking college-level Advanced Placement classes.

Virginia executed Muhammad in 2009.

A Virginia jury found Malvo guilty of capital murder in 2003 for killing FBI analyst Linda Franklin, who was shot in the head outside a Home Depot store. Malvo later struck plea deals in other cases in Virginia and Maryland.

Then-Bellingham High School principal Steve Clarke testified in Malvo’s defense at his trial in 2003, to help him avoid the death penalty.

“I love the kid. He was respectful, smart, kindhearted,” Clarke told The Bellingham Herald in a 2005 interview. “It’s about as sad as it gets, “ said Clarke. “It’s a life lost.”

All told, Malvo received four life-without-parole terms in Virginia and six in Maryland.

‘Irreparably corrupted’

Malvo’s Maryland attorney argued that his sentences should be thrown out because the Supreme Court concluded juveniles shouldn’t be sent to prison for life without the possibility of parole except in rare circumstances in which a judge deems that they are “irreparably corrupt.”

But Greenberg sided with prosecutors who said that ruling doesn’t apply in Maryland because judges are not required to impose life without parole.

Even if Malvo’s punishment was mandatory, the judge who sentenced the man “considered all relevant factors at play and the plain import of his words at the time was that Defendant is ‘irreparably corrupted,’” Greenberg wrote.

James Johnston, an attorney for Malvo, said in an email that his office is reviewing the decision and evaluating potential next steps.

Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said the decision is a victory for the community and that the judge was clear when he said that not only does the Supreme Court decision not apply in this case, but even if it did, the original judge weighed the sentence appropriately.

“The people of Montgomery County very much care about this case, this sentence,” McCarthy said. “It is a very harsh sentence, but it’s an absolutely appropriate sentence when you look at the heinous nature of the crimes committed by Mr. Malvo. The community needs to have some faith that this man is going to die in jail and will not walk the streets again after what he did to this community. This is the appropriate sentence.”

In May, a federal judge threw out Malvo’s life sentences in Virginia and said he’s entitled to new hearings there in light of the Supreme Court decision. But Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has appealed that decision to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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