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May 28, 2017

DC sniper Lee Malvo to get resentencing thanks to Miller Eighth Amendment rule

As reported in this AP piece, a "federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings."  Here is why:

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson in Norfolk said Malvo is entitled to new sentencing hearings after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional.

Malvo was 17 when he was arrested in 2002 for a series of shootings that killed 10 people and wounded three over a three-week span in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, causing widespread fear throughout the region. His accomplice, John Allen Muhammad, was executed in 2009.

Malvo also was sentenced to life in prison in Maryland for the murders that occurred there. But his lawyers have made an appeal on similar grounds in that state.  A hearing is scheduled in June.

Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh, who helped prosecute Malvo in 2003, said the Virginia attorney general can appeal Jackson's ruling.  If not, Morrogh said he would pursue another life sentence, saying he believes Malvo meets the criteria for a harsh sentence....

Michael Kelly, spokesman for Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, said Friday evening that the office is "reviewing the decision and will do everything possible, including a possible appeal, to make sure this convicted mass murderer serves the life sentences that were originally imposed."  He also noted that the convictions themselves stand and emphasized that, even if Malvo gets a new sentencing hearing, he could still be resentenced to a life term....

Jackson, in his ruling, wrote that Malvo was entitled to a new sentencing hearing because the Supreme Court's ruling grants new rights to juveniles that Malvo didn't know he had when he agreed to the plea bargain.

The full 25-page opinion resolving Malvo's habeas petition is available at this link.

May 28, 2017 at 05:50 PM | Permalink


There are plenty of child and teen serial killers. The Supreme Court has taken their side, and has moved against their hundreds of victims a year.

The entire Supreme Court should be impeached by Congress, for its legal opinions, and not for any collateral corruption lawyer gotcha. Its wrongful and anti-victim bias is its greatest crime.

Posted by: David Behar | May 28, 2017 10:45:02 PM

The killer accepted a plea deal, and waived his Miller right.

Posted by: David Behar | May 28, 2017 10:47:30 PM


Posted by: federalist | May 29, 2017 8:24:50 AM

Bruce. Where have you been?

How would you defend Salvo's legal rights? Maybe he was being "impetuous" when he helped shoot and kill all those people. His frontal lobes needed just 5% more myelination. Maybe he can learn a skill, one day be a productive member of our society. Maybe he can move next door to your house.

The Congress should immediately impeach U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson in Norfolk, not for any collateral corruption,but for this decision of pure evil. This judge is pure rent seeking evil. He is allowing extended, expensive, pointless hearings, taking years and employing dozens of lawyers. He is stealing tax money. Impeach this thieving lawyer immediately.

Posted by: David Behar | May 29, 2017 1:48:14 PM

Makes sense under the circumstances. I do think there is significant mitigation (which is why the jury recommended life instead of death in the case) and it makes sense for the Judge to have been able to consider that information. That being said, since he was 17 and given the nature of the offenses, a life sentence is still likely.

Posted by: Erik M | May 30, 2017 8:32:14 AM

Erik M's comment is telling -- all this amounts to is new sentencing that makes sense per precedent. The precedent doesn't say life imprisonment cannot be provided. It even says that there are limited number of cases where it can be.

And, even there, noting the mitigation recognized at the time, the possibility he might get out in 50 years or something instead of dying in prison underlines the limits of the protection of the opinion.

Posted by: Joe | May 30, 2017 9:54:59 AM

In 50 years time, the technology may be around to give him youth or what have you. What an affront to the victims if that comes to pass.

Posted by: federalist | May 30, 2017 10:35:32 AM

Joe. You are in the business. Give us an estimate of the total cost of both sides of this rehearing, including all subsequent likely appeals.

Posted by: David Behar | May 30, 2017 6:37:56 PM

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