Around this time 17 years ago, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo terrorized the D.C. area. Their shooting rampage, which spanned three entire weeks, took the lives of 10 people and injured 3 others. The duo was arrested in Frederick, MD, and eventually prosecuted in a Virginia court in 2003.
48-year-old Muhammad was executed for his crimes by lethal injection in 2009 while Malvo sat in a prison cell serving his life sentence without parole. However, recent Supreme Court rulings have prohibited life sentences for crimes committed by those under the age of 18. The decision at hand is whether or not Malvo should receive a resentencing.
Malvo’s Attorney Wants Resentencing
This past Wednesday, October 16, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court listened to arguments that stated Lee Boyd Malvo received an unjust sentence in Virginia for his involvement in the D.C. shootings.
His lawyers advocated that the Supreme Court reconsider a new sentence since Malvo was 17 at the time of his crimes. The defendant’s attorneys claim that the new rulings do not allow the U.S. Supreme Court to make mandatory life sentences to juveniles.
The state of Virginia defends this claim, saying that the Court’s ruling was not mandatory and therefore not applicable to the original case.
A Split Supreme Court Ruling
The 9 U.S. Supreme Court judges seem to be divided over the issue of whether or not to reconsider the 2003 life-sentencing of Lee Malvo.
The more liberal-leaning Justice Elena Kagan believes that the age of the criminal matters and that it should be highly considered when sentencing. “You have to consider youth in making these sorts of sentencing determinations,” Kagan said referencing another case in which underaged criminals were involved.
She also said those that make these rulings must “take into account how children are different, and how those differences counsel against irrevocably sentencing them to a lifetime in prison.”
However, the more conservative Justice Samuel Alito disagrees. He believes that the original ruling from 2003 should be upheld. He also states that the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings need only to be discretionary, not mandatory.
The decision of this case, referred to as Randall Mathena v. Lee Boyd Malvo, No. 18-217, is supposed to conclude by the end of June 2020.