Maryland’s Court of Appeals held arguments Tuesday on whether the life sentences without the possibility of parole that Washington, D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo is currently serving should be revisited.
Kiran Iyer, a Maryland public defender, based his argument on the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court Miller v. Alabama case that banned mandatory life sentences for juveniles.
The ruling stated that life sentences for defendants 17 and younger should be banned, “for all but the rarest of juvenile offenders, those whose crimes reflect permanent incorrigibility.”
Maryland’s General Assembly abolished life without parole for minors, which overrode a veto by Governor Larry Hogan in 2021.
The state of Virginia passed similar legislation in 2020, which reportedly encouraged Malvo to submit an appeal.
The appeal reached the Supreme Court, and they dismissed his case after Governor Ralph Northam officially signed the bill, which enabled Malvo to be eligible for parole in Virginia beginning in 2022.
The decision in favor of juveniles was passed 10 years after Malvo, who was 17 at the time of the shootings, was sentenced to life without possibility of parole.
In 2002, Malvo and his mentor and accomplice John Allen Muhammad shot people in the D.C. area, Maryland and Virginia over a three-week period.
Victims of the snipers were engaging in their normal daily routines upon their murders.
Victims were shot in parking lots, like FBI intelligence analyst Linda Franklin, 47, and 43-year-old Caroline Seawell, while pumping gas, like 54-year-old Prem Kumar Walekar and Dean Meyers, 53. Sarah Ramos, 43, was shot to death while sitting on a bench reading; James Buchanan, 39, was shot while landscaping at a mall; and 13-year-old Iran Brown was injured walking home from middle school.
In total, 17 people were killed, and 10 others were injured. Throughout the course of the killings, the suspects became known as the D.C. or Beltway Snipers,
Muhammad, then 48, was sentenced to death and was executed in Virginia in 2009.
Iyer said Malvo should also be considered for Maryland’s new law that allows those incarcerated as juveniles to seek release after they have served 20 years. Iyer said Malvo’s age was not adequately considered at the time of his trial, nor was his capability of change, which holds significance under the new law, CBS reported.
“The bottom line with the sentencing is that Malvo’s corrigibility was undisputed. It just had no legal significance in 2006,” Iyer said. “It has legal significance now. It means that his sentences are excessive.”
Because Malvo is incarcerated and serving four life sentences in Virginia, three for murder and one for attempted murder, he would first have to be paroled from that state, according to Carrie Williams, an assistant attorney general for the state of Maryland.
The now 36-year-old has also been sentenced to six separate life without parole sentences in Maryland for the murder of six people.
Williams told CBS that even if the judge who sentenced Malvo noted his growth, that did not include,”…the amount of change or growth that would be required — or even the capacity for the amount of change or growth that would be required — to release someone who had killed six separate people over a 22-day crime spree back into society.”
“Mr. Malvo had multiple opportunities to reflect upon each one of his 10 bad decisions, and the bad decisions that have not been prosecuted but to which Mr. Malvo has confessed,” Williams said.
The Court of Appeals has not yet issued a ruling, and it could take months for a final decision.