Skip to comments.Malvo Spared the Death Penalty
Posted on 12/24/2003 7:45:30 AM PST by Theodore R.
Posted on Wed, Dec. 24, 2003
Malvo spared the death penalty PROSECUTOR ATTRIBUTES JURY'S DECISION TO DEFENDANT'S YOUTHFUL APPEARANCE By Adam Liptak NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE
CHESAPEAKE, Va. - A jury spared the life of Lee Boyd Malvo yesterday, instead sentencing him to life in prison without parole for murders and terrorism in the Washington-area sniper shootings last year.
The sentence came just weeks after John Allen Muhammad, Malvo's mentor and partner in the sniper attacks, was also convicted of murder and terrorism and was sentenced to death. Malvo, 18, was 17 at the time of the crimes.
The men must stand trial for other murder charges, but the jury's decision to spare Malvo's life showed that it was reluctant to put a 17-year-old to death even though it had rejected his insanity defense.
Malvo was found guilty of killing Linda Franklin, 47, an FBI analyst, in the parking lot of a Home Depot store in Falls Church, Va., on Oct. 14, 2002. Muhammad was convicted of killing Dean Meyers, 53, an engineer, who was pumping gas in Manassas, Va., on Oct. 9, 2002.
Robert F. Horan Jr., the lead prosecutor in the case, said Malvo's youthful appearance was a key factor in the jury's sentencing decision. "He's very lucky that he looks a lot younger than he is," Horan said.
He also said he learned long ago to avoid trials in late December: "Whatever you do, don't try one in Christmas week."
Several of the eight women and four men on the jury appeared at a news conference after the proceedings as their foreman read a statement about their deliberations.
"This case was both mentally challenging and emotionally exhausting," said the foreman, Jim Wolfcale, 41, a minister. "Deep thought and consideration went into our deliberations and the decisions that we made. We, the jury, wish to express our heartfelt sympathy to the victim's family and friends."
Malvo was fined $100,000 on each of the two counts. He will be formally sentenced on March 10.
The defendant's mother, reached by phone in Malvo's native Jamaica, expressed her appreciation to the jury. "I thank God that they spared his life," Una James said.
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft chose to send the suspects first to Virginia largely because they could face the death penalty if convicted. The other jurisdictions that could have tried Malvo for the Washington area shootings, Maryland, the District of Columbia and the federal system, do not allow juvenile offenders to be executed.
Muhammad was sentenced to death last month by a jury in Virginia Beach.
Virginia prosecutors have indicated they intend to flip the charges against the two men, trying each for the murder of which the other has been convicted.
Craig S. Cooley, one of Malvo's lawyers, said he expects more trials, mentioning Baton Rouge, La., and Montgomery, Ala., the site of two killings before the Washington area rampage began, as possibilities. Both states allow the execution of juvenile offenders.
Malvo appeared wary and scared as the verdict was read. A faint smile appeared on his face as he heard the sentence on the first count, for killing Franklin as part of a terror campaign. A look of relief washed over his face as the second verdict, for multiple killings in a three-year period, was read.
Katrina Hannum, 25, Frank-lin's daughter, sobbed as the sentences were read. Franklin's husband, William, expressed no emotion.
The evidence against Malvo was in many ways stronger than that against Muhammad, further indicating that his age played a crucial role in the jury's determination. There was more physical evidence that Malvo was the triggerman in many of the shootings; he confessed to all of the shootings in a series of statements made to prison guards and detectives in November 2002; and even recently his lawyers conceded that he shot several people in the snipers' cross-country killing spree.
The defense's dominant theme through the seven-week trial was that Malvo was younger than his years in maturity and judgment. He appeared in court almost every day wearing oversized sweaters selected by one of his lawyers and that lawyer's wife.
"Certainly youth is a major mitigating factor," said Craig S. Cooley, a lawyer for Malvo.
The prosecution, by contrast, presented a compelling and condensed two hours of testimony during the sentencing phase, including from seven relatives of victims.
One announcer wondered why that particular community was chosen for the trial since juries there allegedly have never given criminals ever the death sentence.
I suspect this same jury would have pronounced the death sentence for Terri Schindler. Terri's case is a true horror story, with a crazy judge saying she should be starved to death to protect her privacy or some such nonsense.
Is the Pope Catholic? Does a bear crap in the woods?
Once he gets out, he may murder another half dozen people. Maybe then he will get the death penalty.
The jury was probably thinking that far ahead, or more likely they were idiots.
The case didn't belong in a courtroom to be heard by his "peers." American justice is a sham and a failure!
I meant the date for Malvo's sentencing,
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