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Malvo won't stand trial in Virginia case

Prosecutor cites Supreme Court ruling on death penalty

From Mike M. Ahlers
CNN Washington Bureau


• Interactive: Death penalty in the U.S.
• Special Report:  Sniper attacks
• Court nixes juvenile death penalty
Lee Boyd Malvo
Supreme Court
Capital Punishment

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Lee Boyd Malvo will not stand trial for a sniper shooting in Manassas, Virginia, according to a prosecutor who said Tuesday's U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning juvenile executions would make a trial pointless.

Malvo, who was 17 during a shooting spree that terrorized the Washington, D.C. area in fall 2002, is now serving life sentences for two of the 10 sniper shootings.

Prince William County, Virginia, Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert said it "doesn't make sense" to try Malvo for the death of Dean Harold Meyers now that the Supreme Court has ruled that people cannot be executed for crimes they committed as juveniles.

Malvo's accomplice, 44-year-old John Allen Muhammad, was sentenced to death last March for Meyers' murder.

Ebert said he had wanted to try Malvo on capital charges, but "in light of this decision, we will not do so. He's already gotten two life sentences."

In 2003, Malvo was sentenced to life without parole in the shooting of FBI analyst Linda Franklin. He later entered an Alford Plea -- an acknowledgment there was enough evidence to convict him -- in the killing of Kenneth Bridges. He received a life sentence for that murder as well.

Ebert said Tuesday he disagrees with the Supreme Court decision.

"I personally believe that you can't draw a bright line between a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old," he said.

In the sniper case, Ebert said, Malvo was extremely dangerous and intelligent, and the crimes were meticulously planned -- not the negligent act of a minor.

Ebert said he would not seek a plea agreement with Malvo because he wants to preserve the right to prosecute Malvo if a future court reinstates the death penalty for juveniles.

Malvo still faces possible trials in several other states. But his attorney said before Tuesday's ruling he believes those states likewise would lose interest in prosecuting him if the Supreme Court chose to declare juvenile executions unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court, in its 5-4 decision, tossed out the death sentence of a Missouri man who was 17 when he murdered a St. Louis area woman in 1993, saying the punishment was unconstitutionally cruel under the Eighth Amendment.

"When a juvenile commits a heinous crime, the state can exact forfeiture of some of the most basic liberties, but the state cannot extinguish his life and his potential to attain a mature understanding of his own humanity," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.

The ruling means the death sentences of some 70 death row inmates who were younger than 18 at the time of their crimes will be invalid. States in the future will not be allowed to seek the death penalty for minors.

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