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Supreme Court to Consider D.C. Sniper Appeal

The Supreme Court will consider an appeal in the case of convicted murderer Lee Boyd Malvo, who made up one-half of a sniper team that terrorized the D.C. region for several weeks in 2002.

Malvo, 34, was sentenced to six consecutive life sentences without parole in Maryland and four more in Virginia after the then-17-year-old embarked on a deadly rampage throughout the D.C. area with 41-year-old John Allen Muhammad, killing 10 people and injuring three others while shooting from the trunk of a hollowed-out vehicle. The two were ultimately found responsible for seven other deaths around the country.

While Muhammad was executed in 2009 for his crimes, Malvo is appealing those sentences on the grounds that the law has changed and that life-without-parole sentences may not have been constitutional for a juvenile offender.

Since Malvo’s sentencing, the Supreme Court has made important rulings that affect juveniles convicted of homicide, including a 2012 Supreme Court ruling in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for people younger than 18 was a violation of the Eighth Amendment. Children are constitutionally different from adults for sentencing purposes, the court found.

Once the law changed, Malvo appealed his life sentences, arguing that such sentences for juveniles constitute excessive punishment. A 3-0 panel of the Fourth Circuit then upheld the lower court’s decision to vacate Malvo’s Virginia sentence.

A Maryland judge, however, denied new sentencing hearings for Malvo in that state.

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