In a Montgomery County courtroom Thursday, lawyers feuded over whether or not Lee Boyd Malvo, one of the DC Snipers of 2002, should be considered for a resentencing hearing.
Malvo, 32, was 17 when he was arrested. The judge gave him 10 life sentences – six in Montgomery County, Maryland, and four in Virginia. Currently he is in prison in Virginia. Malvo and John Allen Muhammad were convicted of killing 10 people in the D.C. area over a three-week span in October 2002. Muhammad was sentenced to death; he was executed in 2009.
Malvo did not attend court Thursday; instead, his public defender, James Johnston, argued that he was subjected to mandatory life sentences, a punishment the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional for juveniles in 2012, violating the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishments. Last year, the court determined it should be applied retroactively. Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy argued that Malvo’s sentence was not mandatory and that the plea deal he agreed to allowed the judge to impose any sentence he thought best, including the possibility of parole.
Assistant State’s Attorney Brian Kleinbord deemed Malvo’s crime as “the worst criminal act ever perpetrated on our community,” and argued that Maryland Circuit Judge James L. Ryan, who sentenced Malvo to six life-without-parole prison terms, took into consideration his age, his willingness to cooperate with the state and the fact that he expressed remorse for his crimes. Still, Kleinbord said, the judge determined such a sentence was appropriate.
Late last month, Malvo argued a similar case in Virginia, and a federal judge in Norfolk ordered new sentencing hearings on two of Malvo’s life sentences there. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced shortly thereafter that the commonwealth would appeal.
“All that is necessary is a hearing in which a court can consider a defendant’s youth and circumstances before deciding if a life without parole sentence is appropriate,” Kleinbord said, and furthermore that he believes the original sentencing hearing fulfilled that requirement.
Judge Robert Greenberg didn’t make a decision Thursday. He said he would study the issue and make a ruling.