'DC sniper' can argue he committed crimes at age too young for his sentence
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The then-teenage half of the so-called “DC snipers” whose violence had ties to Baton Rouge can challenge a life sentence without parole because of his age when he was arrested.
The Supreme Court ruled Monday involving such sentences in the state of Virginia and is expected to hear the issue in October.
Lee Boyd Malvo was a teenager when he and John Allen Muhammad put much of the country on edge after firing off round after round of random gunfire in places, killing ten people and wounding three in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia 16 years ago.
Muhammad was executed in 2009. Malvo was sentenced in Virginia and Maryland.
In May 2017, a judge in Virginia ruled Malvo was entitled to new sentencing hearings amid a previous U.S. Supreme Court decision that mandatory life sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional. Malvo was 17 when he was arrested in 2002.
Prior to the sniper case, Malvo and Muhammad shot a man outside a Baton Rouge shopping center in August 2002. The victim survived. Malvo eventually wrote a letter apologizing to the victim when Malvo realized in prison the man was alive.
"I am truly sorry for the pain I caused you and your loved ones. I was relieved to hear that you suffered no paralyzing injuries and that you are alive," Malvo wrote to John Gaeta of Albany, the victim.
Gaeta described the attack in a 2010 interview with the AP: "I said, 'What are you doing?' He lifted up the gun and shot me. Once I saw the weapon, my concentration was on that. And on dying. I thought, 'Is this how it's going to end?' I dropped to the ground and played dead. I didn't wiggle around and I didn't fight, because I thought if I did he might shoot me again," Gaeta recalled.
Muhammad was also charged in the Baton Rouge killing of beauty shop manager Hong Im Ballenger on Sept. 23, 2002. Muhammad was executed before the case could proceed.
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