A new law pushed through Virginia by the state’s Democratic leadership could mean that the surviving Beltway sniper will be eligible for parole within the next five years, effectively reversing his life sentence in the commonwealth.
On Tuesday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed into law House Bill 35, a measure intended to give those convicted as juveniles a second chance.
According to WTTG-TV in Washington, the law gives convicted juveniles a parole opportunity after they serve two decades of their sentences.
A potentially unintended consequence of this lenient bill is that people such as Lee Boyd Malvo could soon be walking free.
Malvo was given his lengthy punishment after a rampage of sniper attacks in 2002.
At the time of the attacks, Malvo was 17 years old. His mentor and partner in the attacks, John Allen Muhammad, was 41.
While Muhammad was executed for his role in the killings, Malvo’s young age prevented him from getting the death penalty.
Thanks to the commonwealth’s new law, however, Malvo will be eligible for parole in 2024.
According to Northam, the surviving sniper could still face time in other states that fell victim to his meticulously planned shooting spree.
“He has counts in the state of Maryland so it would be a long time,” Northam said, according to WTTG, referring to the sniper’s six life sentences in that state.
“But it’s not so much about him,” the governor said. “It’s about the hundreds of people who are incarcerated right now and were tried as juveniles, and we want them to have an opportunity for a second chance.”
As a result of Northam’s approval of the law, Malvo and his legal team have withdrawn a case with the Supreme Court revolving around life sentences for juveniles.
While many say Malvo is completely responsible for his role in the murders, some claim he was a victim of Muhammad’s corrupting influence.
A 2003 CBS article cites a psychologist who cast doubt on Malvo’s ability to tell right from wrong. According to the professional, Malvo had dissociative disorder after time spent under the wing of Muhammad.
Even if Malvo walks free in Virginia, it appears others are ready to hold him accountable for his crimes.
“Six people were murdered in Montgomery County [Maryland] and should have their day in court, was that we were worried and concerned about what might happen in Virginia down the road,” former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler said, according to WTTG.
“And this has happened, so even in the event that Malvo were to be paroled, he would then have to serve six life sentences in Maryland.”
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