On Friday Maryland’s highest court granted Lee Boyd Malvo, the now 37-year-old convicted D.C. sniper, a new sentencing hearing. In 2006, a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge sentenced Malvo, who pleaded guilty, to six life sentences without the possibility of parole for his role in the killing of six people. In a 4-3 ruling filed Friday, the Maryland Court of Appeals determined Malvo was due a new sentencing hearing, citing the 2012 Supreme Court case Miller v. Alabama, which says life sentences without the possibility of parole for juveniles violate the Eighth Amendment.
Malvo was 17 years old when he and John Allen Muhammad (41-years-old) began a killing spree in DC, Maryland and Virginia for a three week period in October 2002 before they were arrested later that month at a Maryland rest stop. Muhammad was executed in 2009 for his role in the shootings. In 2017, Malvo filed a motion to correct what he claimed was an illegal sentence under a Maryland law, based on a 2012 US Supreme Court ruling barring mandatory life sentences without parole for juvenile offenders. Per court documents, “Recent Supreme Court decisions have held that the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution does not permit a sentence of life without parole for a juvenile offender convicted of homicide if the sentencing court determines that the offender’s crime was the result of transient immaturity, as opposed to permanent incorrigibility. That constitutional constraint applies retroactively. However, a court that imposes a sentence in a discretionary sentencing regime need not make an explicit finding as to a juvenile offender’s incorrigibility. In a case where sentencing took place prior to the recent Supreme Court decisions and where the sentencing judge may have determined that the defendant was not permanently incorrigible, the defendant is entitled to be resentenced to ensure compliance with the Eighth Amendment. The terms of that sentence remain within the discretion of the sentencing court.”
Malvo is currently serving four life terms in Virginia for his role in the sniper shootings. He would have to be granted parole before he begins to serve his Maryland sentence. The Maryland Circuit Court will determine what his new sentence will be and whether he will be eligible for parole. No date for his re-sentencing has been set.