Teen sniper gets another life term

Associated Press/October 27, 2004

Spotsylvania, Va. -- Teenage sniper Lee Boyd Malvo was sentenced to life in prison without parole under a plea deal for one of 10 slayings that terrorized the Washington, D.C., area in October 2002.

Malvo, 19, could still face a death penalty prosecution for other slayings.

He was sentenced Tuesday for the Oct. 11, 2002, killing of businessman Kenneth Bridges. He also received a life sentence for the shooting of Caroline Seawell on Oct. 4, 2002. She recovered from her wounds.

Malvo already is serving a life sentence for another one of the killings and dropped his appeals of that conviction in connection with Tuesday's plea bargain.

Malvo's guilty plea took the form of an Alford plea, in which Malvo did not admit factual guilt but acknowledged the government has sufficient evidence to convict him. He cannot appeal the sentence.

Malvo declined to make a statement before he was sentenced.

Spotsylvania Commonwealth's Attorney William Neely said the victims' families supported the plea bargain.

"He's spending the rest of his life in a maximum-security prison where he'll be locked down 23 hours a day, seven days a week for the rest of his life," Neely said.

Malvo was convicted last year and sentenced to life in prison for the Oct. 14, 2002, killing of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, one of the sniper killings over a three-week span in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. His accomplice, John Allen Muhammad, is on Virginia's death row for one of the slayings.

Neely said after Tuesday's hearing that Malvo appeared to be heavily influenced by Muhammad. When Malvo was tried last year, his lawyers put on an insanity defense, claiming Muhammad had brainwashed Malvo into a killing machine.

Malvo could face the death penalty in Prince William County, as well as in Alabama and Louisiana, where he and Muhammad are charged with other deaths.

Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert, who obtained a death sentence for Muhammad, has said he will pursue the death penalty against Malvo if the Supreme Court rules this fall that the execution of 16- and 17-year-olds is constitutional.

Defense lawyer Craig Cooley said Malvo "accepts responsibility to the extent that he is serving life in prison without parole."

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