WaPo reports,

A jury Tuesday spared Lee Boyd Malvo a death sentence, deciding instead to send him to prison for the rest of his life for the murder of Linda Franklin at a Home Depot store in Seven Corners.

The convicted Washington-area sniper, who was 17 when the shootings occurred, was given a life sentence for each of the two counts of capital murder.

The jury, which deliberated about 8 and 1/2 hours on the penalty phase of the trial, found the aggravating factors necessary for the death penalty were present as circumstances in the murder, but nonetheless opted to give Malvo a sentence of life instead of death.

His formal sentence will be set by Judge Jane Marum Roush in March, but she cannot impose a death penalty without a jury recommending it.

I’m a bit surprised they couldn’t get a death sentence on this guy. If the jury thought he was responsible for the murders–which they presumably did since they convicted him–then the “but the old guy was really charming” defense seems rather lame in sentencing.

The prosecuting attorney has some theories:

Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said shortly after the penalty was announced that Malvo’s immature appearance and the timing of the case may have helped him.

Malvo was “very lucky that he looks a lot younger than he is . . . ,” Horan told reporters when commenting on the jury’s decision.

“We used to have a theory when I was a very young prosecutor that whatever you do, don’t try one on Christmas week.”

(Hat tip: Wizbang)

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Well, Malvo can still be charged in the Alabama liquor store shooting, as well as (I think) some other DC-area shootings. So I’m pretty sure he’s going to get a death penalty one way or another.

  2. jen says:

    Doesn’t the judge have the option to pronounce a sentence other than was recommended by the jury? I know it’s a long shot, but I think it’s in the realm of possibility that the judge could give him death on the official day of sentencing.

  3. James Joyner says:

    The judge has the option to impose a lighter sentence but not a harsher one.