Lee Boyd Malvo's attorney says sentence reduction may apply

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) - A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling could lead to a sentence reduction in Virginia for Lee Boyd Malvo, the young man convicted of murder in the 2002 Washington-area sniper shootings, his defense attorney said Friday.

But the chief prosecutor in Montgomery County, Md., where Malvo was convicted of six other murders, said Malvo's sentence for the Maryland shootings will ensure that he dies in prison.

On Monday, the high court threw out mandatory life imprisonment without parole for juveniles.

That was Malvo's sentence for the murders of Linda Franklin in Fairfax County, Va., and Kenneth Bridges in Spotsylvania County, Va., when Malvo was 17.

Defense attorney Craig S. Cooley said that if the ruling is applied retroactively, Malvo would be entitled to at least one new sentencing hearing.

Cooley said he didn't know if the ruling would apply both to trial verdicts such as Malvo's 2003 conviction for the Fairfax County murder, and plea deals like the one he struck in Spotsylvania County in 2004.

Malvo also was sentenced to life without parole in Maryland in 2006 for six murders in Montgomery County. That sentence wasn't mandatory, like the Virginia sentences, so the Supreme Court ruling doesn't apply there, said Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler.

Gansler, who was Montgomery County state's attorney when Malvo was convicted there, made the decision to try Malvo and adult accomplice John Allen Muhammad in Maryland despite their convictions in Virginia.

Montgomery County State's Attorney John J. McCarthy was among the prosecutors in the Maryland trial. He said the wisdom of trying the pair in Maryland was borne out by the Supreme Court's decision and the possibility that Malvo could be released in Virginia.

"From his standpoint, this is a pretty pyrrhic victory because at the end of the day, he will die in jail - either in Virginia or in Maryland," McCarthy said.

Malvo and Muhammad were accused of killing 10 people and wounding three in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., in October 2002.

They also were linked to shootings in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Washington state.

The pair paralyzed the nation's capital as they shot people at random - at gas stations, shopping malls, going to school. They used a high-powered rifle, firing from the trunk of a modified Chevy Caprice until they were tracked down at a Maryland rest stop. Muhammad, 48, was executed in Virginia in 2009.