WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Six life sentences for a man convicted in a deadly Washington area sniper spree when he was 17 have been allowed to stand after a Maryland judge found that he had not been given mandatory life terms, which the U.S. Supreme court has ruled unconstitutional for juveniles.
Lee Boyd Malvo, now 32, was one of two men found guilty in the 2002 shootings that left 10 people dead and three others wounded.
Malvo has appealed his sentences in Maryland and in Virginia, where he is serving three life terms. A federal judge overturned the Virginia sentences in May, citing the 2012 Supreme Court decision banning mandatory life sentences without parole for inmates convicted before age 18.
Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Robert Greenberg rejected a request for a hearing on Malvo’s six consecutive life sentences in Maryland. He said they had been handed down at the discretion of Judge James Ryan and were not mandatory.
“The sentence imposed was substantively and procedurally legal under the law of this state,” Greenberg wrote in a 20-page opinion dated Tuesday and made public on Wednesday.
Ryan would have been well aware that a juvenile should be beyond rehabilitation before a sentence of life without parole, he said.
“The plain import of his words at the time of sentencing was that Defendant is ‘irreparably corrupted,’” Greenberg wrote.
Malvo’s attorney, public defender James Johnston, said by telephone, “We are reviewing the decision and carefully considering our next steps.”
A federal court in Maryland is also considering an appeal by Malvo. Virginia is appealing the federal court order that Malvo must be resentenced in the three cases there.
Malvo’s co-defendant, John Allen Muhammad, was sentenced to death and executed in 2009.
Reporting by Ian Simpson