Ruling Bars Teen Sniper From Death

malvo sniper trial prison jail sentence CBS/AP

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling Tuesday barring the execution of juvenile killers means Lee Boyd Malvo can no longer face the death penalty for his role in the 2002 Washington sniper case or other slayings around the country.

Malvo, who was 17 at the time of the shootings, has already been convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole for two of the murders. Prosecutors had planned to try him in other jurisdictions in hopes of obtaining a death sentence.

But, as CBS News Justice Department Correspondent Jim Stewart reports, Malvo and his prosecutors got news within hours of the high court's decision. Bowing to the inevitable, prosecutors say there is no point in going forward with his death-penalty trial now.

However, Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert said that in light of the ruling, he would not pursue another conviction against Malvo.

"I see no need to go to the expense and the trouble," Ebert said.

Malvo also faced the possibility of a death sentence in Alabama and Louisiana, where he and accomplice John Allen Muhammad are charged with other slayings. It was not immediately clear whether those cases would still go forward.

Muhammad is already on death row in Virginia.

Malvo was convicted in Fairfax County in 2003 of murdering FBI analyst Linda Franklin in one of the 10 sniper killings over a three-week span in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

In October, Malvo pleaded guilty to a slaying in Spotsylvania County; prosecutors agreed in return not to pursue the death penalty there. He was given another life sentence.

Virginia had been chosen to prosecute Malvo first because it permitted the death penalty for 17-year-olds, while Maryland did not.

The ruling Tuesday also means that Malvo, now 20, is free to give a full account of his crimes without fear of additional punishment. His lawyers have hinted that Malvo might be willing to come clean if the death penalty were no longer an option.

Cheryll Witz, whose father was fatally shot on an Arizona golf course in 2002, is hoping Malvo will now confess to that crime. Malvo and Muhammad have long been suspects in the slaying of Jerry Taylor, but authorities have not charged the pair for lack of evidence.

"I want him to say if he killed my father," Witz said in a telephone interview. "Until you have a definitive answer, you don't have closure."

  • Christine Lagorio

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