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Fri Jun 22, 2018, 09:10 AM

Appeals court orders Beltway Sniper Lee Boyd Malvo resentenced in killings

Public Safety

Appeals court orders Beltway Sniper Lee Boyd Malvo resentenced in killings

By Peter Hermann and Rachel Weiner June 21 at 1:59 PM [link:peter.hermann@washpost.com; rachel.weiner@washpost.com|Email the author]

A federal appeals court on Thursday agreed to throw out the four life sentences that Lee Boyd Malvo received for his role in the 2002 Beltway sniper shootings that occurred in Virginia when he was 17.

The unanimous ruling from the three-judge panel cites a Supreme Court decision in 2012 that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole are unconstitutional for juveniles. The court made that decision retroactive in 2016.

Barring an appeal, Malvo would face new sentencing hearings in two jurisdictions in Virginia. He pleaded guilty in Spotsylvania County and agreed to two life sentences without parole, and was convicted by a jury in Chesapeake and given the same punishment. The three-judge appellate panel vacated all four sentences; the convictions still stand.

“We’re pleased with the decision, of course, and not just for Lee Malvo, but for all juveniles that are in a similar situation,” said one of his attorneys, Craig Stover Cooley. Under Virginia law, the jury in Chesapeake had only two possible sentences to weigh for the capital murder convictions: death or life in prison without parole.

Peter Hermann covers crime for The Washington Post. He previously worked for the Baltimore Sun for 22 years, covering a Baltimore suburb and then the Baltimore Police Department. Follow @phscoop

Rachel Weiner tries to cover Alexandria's federal court from a small windowless room with no cellphone access. She sometimes ventures outside to write about crime in Alexandria and Arlington. Follow @rachelweinerwp

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