U.S. Fourth Circuit - The FindLaw 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Teen DC Sniper Wins New Sentencing Hearing

A panel of judges for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the sentencing appeal in a rather controversial case. Lee Boyd Malvo, at the age of 17, participated in the murder of 10 random individuals in Virginia, Maryland and DC in 2002.

Malvo was spared the death penalty, but was sentenced to life without parole. However, after the recent Supreme Court decision holding that sentences of life without parole for juvenile offenders required meeting a higher threshold than previously considered, Malvo's case was raised to the federal district courts in both Maryland and Virginia for resentencing.

State Appealing to SCOTUS

Though the Maryland district court rejected the bid to resentence the life without parole sentence out of that state, Virginia's federal district court actually ruled in favor of resentencing. Prosecutors appealed that decision to the Fourth Circuit, which also found in Malvo's favor. And though the state could request an en banc rehearing, it is opting instead to just petition the Supreme Court for review.

Difficult Decision

Though the Fourth Circuit came down for Malvo, it is unlikely that decision was an easy one. Malvo and his mentor, who was executed in 2009 for his role in the murders, committed senseless acts of violence. However, the court did find that the new requirements for minors facing life without parole, which do apply retroactively, recently set forth by the High Court simply were not met when Malvo was sentenced.

Given the retroactivity of the High Court's ruling, Malvo now has the chance at some relief, even if it is only on paper, since the Maryland sentence likely isn't going anywhere.

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