Convicted Sniper Malvo to Be Sentenced - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3-10-04

Convicted Sniper Malvo to Be Sentenced

MANASSAS, Va. March 10 — The only question surrounding teenage sniper Lee Boyd Malvo's sentence was whether he would speak about his role in the Washington, D.C.-area killing spree that left 10 people dead.

Otherwise, the outcome of Wednesday's hearing was predetermined: The judge must follow a jury's recommendation of life in prison as Malvo's punishment for the October 2002 killings that terrorized the region.

Malvo's accomplice, John Allen Muhammad, was sentenced to death Tuesday and took the opportunity to again deny any role in the killings, echoing a claim of innocence he made in his opening statement to the jury when he briefly served as his own attorney.

"Just like I said at the beginning, I had nothing to do with this, and I'll say again, I had nothing to do with this," Muhammad said.

But Circuit Judge LeRoy F. Millette Jr. said the evidence of Muhammad's guilt was "overwhelming" and sentenced him to death.

"These offenses are so vile that they were almost beyond comprehension," Millette said.

Unlike in the Malvo case, Millette could have reduced the jury's recommendation of death to life in prison without parole. Virginia law allows a judge to reduce a jury's recommended sentence but not to increase it.

Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush cannot change the jury's recommendation of life in prison for Malvo because that is the minimum punishment allowed for a capital murder conviction.

About 50 family members of sniper victims were in the courtroom Tuesday for Muhammad's sentencing. One silently shook his fist as Millette announced the sentence.

"Justice has been served today," said Sonia Wills, mother of victim Conrad Johnson, who would have been 37 on Sunday. "I can go to my son's grave and wish him a happy birthday."

Muhammad, 43, was convicted of capital murder for the Oct. 9, 2002, murder of Dean Harold Meyers at a gas station near Manassas. Malvo was convicted of capital murder in the Oct. 14, 2002, killing of FBI analyst Linda Franklin outside a Home Depot in Falls Church.

During Muhammad's trial, prosecutors described him as "captain of a killing team" and portrayed him as a father figure to Malvo.

It is unclear what will happen next with Malvo. Prosecutors in other states, including Alabama and Louisiana, are seeking his extradition to face potential death-penalty charges there for killings that occurred in the weeks before the D.C. sniper spree.

Prosecutors in Virginia's Prince William County, who obtained the death penalty against Muhammad, initially said they wanted to seek it against Malvo as well. But they recently said they may want to wait and see the outcome of a pending U.S. Supreme Court case on the execution of juveniles. Malvo was 17 at the time of the sniper spree.

Prosecutor Paul Ebert said he might announce Wednesday whether he'll pursue a case against Malvo.

The killings began on Oct. 2, 2002, when the pair shot a 55-year-old man to death outside a Wheaton, Md., supermarket. The following day, five people were killed in the Washington area.

Muhammad and Malvo were captured Oct. 24 at a highway rest stop near Myersville, Md., in a car that had been altered to allow someone to fire a high-powered rifle from inside the trunk.

Defense lawyer Peter Greenspun pleaded for Millette to show mercy on Muhammad, saying his client is not inherently evil.

"I've represented a lot of bad guys," Greenspun said. "I've represented guys that you look them in the eye and see evil. I've spent a lot of time with John Allen Muhammad and that's not him."

Ebert disagreed. "I see nothing but pure evil," he said after the hearing.

AP

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