Federal judge tosses out life sentences for DC sniper Malvo

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Lee Boyd Malvo, one of the two "D.C. snipers" found guilty of a string of fatal shootings that paralyzed the Washington region in October 2002, will have a chance at serving something less than life in prison.

Malvo's case was remanded back to Spotsylvania County Circuit Court in Virginia to issue a new sentence.

Malvo had been expected to serve life in prison without parole after convictions in Virginia and Maryland.

Malvo appealed his life sentences on the premise that he was seventeen-years-old at the time of the murders, making him a minor exempt from a life sentence (based on Miller v. Alabama). Muhammad was sentenced to death for the slaying in Prince William County of Dean Meyers, and he was executed in 2009. Last year, the court ruled that decision could be retroactive. I imagine the Virginia Attorney General's office will appeal the ruling. Instead, the courts in Fairfax and Spotsylvania must resentence Malvo, on the new standards devised by the Supreme Court in 2012, and he could still receive life sentences again in those proceedings.

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Judge Jackson's case cited Supreme Court precedent that bars punishing juvenile offenders with life without the possibility of parole.

Cooley said he believes Malvo was the first and most carefully planned victim in the murder spree, orchestrated by his father-figure, Muhammad. Muhammad was executed via lethal injection on November 10, 2009.

Malvo, in one of the rare prison interviews he granted to the media, told NBC's "Today" show five years ago that he felt powerless to refuse Muhammad's wishes to shoot at innocent people. "We wanted to go on with our lives", he said. I did someone else's bidding just because they said so.