Maryland’s highest court reviews life sentence for teenage sniper


FILE - This photo provided by the Virginia Department of Corrections shows Lee Boyd Malvo.  Maryland's highest court will reconsider the case of Malvo, who is serving a life sentence for sniper attacks that terrorized the Washington, DC area in 2002. The question is whether the new law of Maryland abolishing life without parole for crimes committed by young people should be extended to people already serving such sentences.  (Virginia Department of Corrections via AP)

FILE – This photo provided by the Virginia Department of Corrections shows Lee Boyd Malvo. Maryland’s highest court will reconsider the case of Malvo, who is serving a life sentence for sniper attacks that terrorized the Washington, DC area in 2002. The question is whether the new law of Maryland abolishing life without parole for crimes committed by young people should be extended to people already serving such sentences. (Virginia Department of Corrections via AP)

FILE – This photo provided by the Virginia Department of Corrections shows Lee Boyd Malvo. Maryland’s highest court will reconsider the case of Malvo, who is serving a life sentence for sniper attacks that terrorized the Washington, DC area in 2002. The question is whether the new law of Maryland abolishing life without parole for crimes committed by young people should be extended to people already serving such sentences. (Virginia Department of Corrections via AP)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – Maryland’s highest court has agreed to hear the case of Lee Boyd Malvo, who is serving a life sentence for his role in the 2002 sniper wave that terrorized the Washington, DC area.

Malvo’s lawyers argue his sentence flies in the face of a 2012 Supreme Court ruling banning mandatory life sentences without parole for juvenile offenders and Malvo should benefit from Maryland’s new law allowing sentenced prisoners as minors to apply for release once they have served at least 20 years.

The state appeals court has granted a “circumvention” review in the case of Malvo and that of two other lifers for crimes committed as children, media reports. The order issued on Wednesday called for oral argument to begin in January.

Malvo was 17 when he and John Allen Muhammad embarked on a massacre that left 10 dead and three injured in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Others were killed as the couple made their way to the DC area from Washington state. Muhammad was executed in 2009.

Malvo has claimed that the six life sentences without parole he received in Maryland are illegal in light of US Supreme Court rulings declaring mandatory life sentences without parole unconstitutional for minors , except in rare cases.

His case could be given new status after the Maryland General Assembly abolished life without parole for young people, overturning Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto. Virginia passed a similar law last year. This change prompted Malvo to give up a legal appeal that had gone to the Supreme Court to determine whether his life sentence should be overturned.


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