Judge removes life without parole sentence for DC Sniper Lee Boyd Malvo

A federal judge overturned the life without parole sentence of Lee Boyd Malvo, the remaining DC SNIPER. The judge, Raymond Jackson, was acting on the U.S. Supreme Court's 2012 decision that disallowed these sentences in the cases of a minor.  In 2016, the court also mandated that this decision be upheld retroactively in cases currently seeking appeal.  Because of these rulings, Malvo must now be re-sentenced.  

Malvo was one of the men behind the DC area shootings in October of 2002. He received a life without parole sentence in both Virginia and Maryland.  

Malvo received sentences of life without parole after two separate trials. But in 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down life sentences without parole for juveniles. And in 2016, it said that holding applied retroactively to cases on appeal.

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A federal judge Friday ordered new sentencings for Lee Boyd Malvo, one of the two men convicted after a string of sniper shootings that terrorized the Washington, D.C. area in the fall of 2002.

Malvo was 17 at the time of the shootings, and is serving sentences of life without parole.

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Ten people were killed and three were wounded in the series of sniper shootings. The victims were chosen at random — in parking lots, at gas stations, while mowing the lawn, and on the way to school.

A Virginia jury convicted the older man, John Allen Muhammad, a Gulf war veteran with mental problems, and he was sentenced to death and was executed in 2009. Prosecutors said a high-powered rifle found in his car was matched to bullets recovered from murder victims.

When Malvo was 17 years old, he worked alongside John Allen Muhammad, who was a Gulf War veteran with a history of mental illness. The pair carried out sniper attacks on unsuspecting people who were simply going about their daily routine. The duo created an atmosphere of panic and terror, since the shootings were completely random and without provocation.  Malvo, from the shelter of their blue Caprice, described using binoculars to select a victim from a safe distance.  After identifying the intended victim by way of a two-way radio, Muhammad would pull the trigger, sealing the victim's tragic fate. This was just one phase of his sick and deranged scheme.

Muhammad had contrived this plan and involved the young teen out of hideously selfish reasons.  In just 3 weeks, ten lives were lost and countless others were forever tarnished.  All of this destruction was caused because he wanted to be able to kill his ex-wife, and not be named a suspect.  

Muhammad was sentenced to death and was executed in Virginia on November 10, 2009. 

"We will trust the people who are making these decisions know what they are doing and are not putting a monster on the street," Bob Meyers, brother of Dean Meyers, told NBC News in a phone interview.

A man of deep faith, Meyers said he said he long ago forgave Malvo and Muhammad. "Not because we wanted them not to have consequences but because we wanted to be free of being stuck on that point for the rest of our lives. We wanted to go on with our lives," he said

In contrast to Muhammad, Lee Boyd Malvo has accepted responsibility for his roles in the killing spree.  Malvo acknowledges he was a monster and his horrific actions haunt him.  

Malvo deserves a second chance at life, but that second chance does not necessarily mean being freed from prison. While he recognizes his wrongdoings, and understands the suffering he caused, he is likely not fit to live outside of a secure facility.  In a perfect world, we would have the funds available to provide extensive rehabilitation that would include psychiatric treatment and teaching life skills.

But one moment — one image — stands out among the carnage of that terrifying time 10 years ago:

“Mr. Franklin’s eyes”...  the devastation, the shock, the sadness. “They are penetrating,” Malvo said in a rare media interview from prison. “It is the worst sort of pain I have ever seen in my life."

That interview shows that Malvo is now capable of empathy.  I believe some people can be given the opportunity to "give back" to society from within the confines of a secure facility, he can give speeches or informal talks to troubled teens and preteens who are at a high risk of following a similar path. It is so costly to maintain a prisoner for life, but would a death penalty solve a problem or bring closure to the families affected by Malvo's crimes? Malvo doesn't need to be released from prison, but would an execution be cheaper on tax payers?

Could anyone really benefit from someone who helped kill so many people in a horrible crime?

What can he tell people that they don't already know? And what could he tell people that another prisoner who committed lesser offenses couldn't do?

What do YOU think Malvo's new sentence should be?

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