RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – Virginia’s attorney general on Friday appealed a Fourth Circuit ruling allowing for the resentencing of Lee Boyd Malvo, one of two “DC Snipers,” who was 17 at the time of the murders.
Malvo and John Allen Muhammad, then 41, killed 17 people in a crime spree that terrorized the suburbs of the nation’s capital in the fall of 2002.
Eventually caught, Muhammad was sentenced to death and executed in 2009. Malvo struck a deal and was sentenced to four life sentences for his crimes in Virginia though he faced charges in other states as well.
But in a 2012 ruling, Miller v. Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court forbid life sentences for minors, and that has given Malvo a chance to reopen his legal case.
The Fourth Circuit granted the resentencing late last month in a 25-page opinion written by U.S. Circuit Judge Paul Niemeyer, a Reagan appointee. In the opinion Neimeyer said the Miller decision set the impetus for the order.
“The crimes committed by Malvo and John Muhammad were the most heinous, random acts of premeditated violence conceivable,” he wrote. “But Malvo was 17 years old when he committed the murders, and he now has the retroactive benefit of new constitutional rules that treat juveniles differently for sentencing.”
“As for Malvo, who knows but God how he will bear the future,” Neimeyer wrote.
In a motion filed with the Fourth Circuit on Friday Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring pushed back at the court’s decision.
“Malvo remains a convicted mass murderer who terrorized an entire region with his heinous and cold blooded killings,” he wrote in a statement shortly after filing a stay motion with the court. “I will keep working to ensure that he faces justice and serves the sentences that were imposed.”
In the motion, Herring argues the Miller decision only impacts those who were sentenced under mandatory sentencing guidelines. The Virginia Supreme Court, he says, does not include life without parole in its mandatory sentencing guidelines for homicides and therefore is not impacted by Miller.
He also pointed to other state courts, and several other circuit decisions, which he says all agree with the Virginia Supreme Court saying “discretionary life without parole sentences do not require resentencing.”
Malvo’s life sentence stemming from the murders he carried out in Maryland was overturned in 2017; however, on review, Circuit Court Judge Robert Greenberg refused to reduce the sentence claiming Malvo’s “physical, mental and emotional state” and the influence of John Allen Muhammad was given full consideration before he was sentenced to life without parole for six counts of first-degree murder.
Lawyers representing Malvo did not return request for comment.