Supreme Court will the hear case of 17-year-old DC Sniper

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2019 | juvenile crimes |

Many will remember the Sniper shooting in where 13 people were shot leaving 10 killed during a six-week spree in 2002. The shooters turned out to be 17-year-old Lee Boyd Malvo and 42-year-old John Allen Muhammad.  While Muhammad eventually was executed for killing seven people, Malvo was convicted in separate trials of murdering three people and serving as a spotter for the others. He is now serving two life sentences from judges in both Maryland and Virginia where the crimes were committed.

Now the Supreme Court of the United States will hear Mathena v. Malvo in its next term to consider if Malvo’s sentence was too harsh considering that he was still a minor at the time of the crimes and sentencing. While the case is more complex, it will be interesting to watch the court try to determine how much such issues as “transient immaturity of youth” and “irreparable corruption” contributed to his behavior at the time.

Malvo argues that:

  • Muhammad was 25 years older and greatly contributed to his behavior.
  • Muhammad also brought him into the country illegally, clothed him, fed him and put him on the path to death and destruction.

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals previously heard the case and ruled that Malvo does indeed deserve a new sentence hearing.

Juveniles deserve a break

It is an unfortunate fact that the United States is the only country in the world that imposes life sentences without parole to juveniles. Currently, there are 1,100 of them serving these sentences. With several important cases in recent years, the number juveniles with life without parole is down with 450 people released for time served.

While many states have looked at resentencing or release, Georgia has only one resentencing case. Nonetheless, juveniles charged as adults and their families may want to speak with an attorney about the case and whether new rulings, such as the upcoming Methena v. Malvo, can have a positive impact on their case.