Maryland’s highest court ruled on Aug. 26 that Lee Boyd Malvo, who was convicted as a juvenile in the serial sniper attacks that killed 10 people, must be resentenced in light of a U.S. Supreme Court decision, CNN reports.
Malvo was 17 years old when he and John Allen Muhammad, 41 at the time, began a three-week shooting spree that terrorized the Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia Beltway area in October 2002. In addition to the 10 deaths, they wounded three other people before the police captured them in Maryland. He was sentenced to life without parole in both Maryland and Virginia, which executed Muhammad in 2009.
According to WTOP, Malvo filed a motion in 2017 to correct his sentence based on guidance from a 2012 Supreme Court ruling, which his lawyers argue makes a life sentence without parole for juvenile offenders illegal in Maryland.
That high court decision said the Eighth Amendment bans life sentences without parole for juveniles “if a sentencing court determines that the offender's crime was the result of transient immaturity, as opposed to permanent incorrigibility," according to Judge Robert McDonald’s ruling, CNN reported. The appeals court judge added that it’s unclear that the lower court concluded that Malvo couldn’t be reformed.
In 2021, Maryland and Virginia enacted legislation that abolished life sentences without parole for juveniles, according to WTOP. In Maryland, people convicted as juveniles who served at least 20 years of their sentence can file a motion to reduce their sentence.
"We hold only that the Eighth Amendment requires that he receive a new sentencing hearing at which the sentencing court, now cognizant of the principles elucidated by the Supreme Court, is able to consider whether or not he is constitutionally eligible for life without parole under those decisions." McDonald explained.