RICHMOND, Va. (WJZ/AP) — A federal appeals court says a sniper serving life in prison after terrorizing the Washington, D.C. region as a teenager must get new sentencing hearings.
Thursday’s decision denies an appeal by prosecutors who said they already complied with the requirements of the Supreme Court, which ruled against mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles.
Lee Boyd Malvo was 17 when he and his mentor, John Allen Muhammad, killed 10 people in Virginia, Maryland and Washington in 2002.
Dean Meyers was killed at a gas station. His brother spoke with WJZ over the phone.
“Whoever goes to pump 8, that’s who we’re going to get,’ and Dean got the unlucky card. He was just coming home from work,” Dean Meyers’ brother, Larry, said.
Experts say Malvo saw Muhammad as a father figure and was totally under his control. A Supreme Court decision ruled that mandatory life without parole for minors is unconstitutional, leading to a Virginia court of appeals to rule Thursday that he deserves a new sentencing hearing.
Legal experts say that doesn’t mean he’ll get out of prison.
“This is something that’s actually really important, because while this ruling has important implications in terms of the due process that was given to Mr. Malvo, in reality, it’s not going to have that much of an impact, most likely, on his actual sentence. The court is still at liberty to give him life without the possibility of parole,” attorney Adam Ruther said.
Muhammad was later executed for his role. Malvo received multiple life-without-parole sentences in Virginia and Maryland.
But despite the pain Malvo has put his family through, Larry Meyers said he wants the surviving sniper to get a second chance.
“That’s just a young life rotting away in jail,” he said.
Prosecutors have argued for years that Malvo is among the most uncommon teens who deserve a life sentence.
“We thought we were under a terrorist attack in this community,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy. “The facts of this case, you cannot find a more egregious case where life without possibility of parole is the appropriate sentence. The bottom line is, any way you analyze this case, this is a complete loss for Mr. Malvo.”
A judge now must decide whether the crimes reflected Malvo’s immaturity or showed he was permanently incorrigible.
WJZ has reached out to Malvo’s attorney for comment but has not yet heard back.
(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)