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Reprieve for minors
Supreme Court decision prompts prosecutor to drop plans to seek death penalty against sniper Lee Boyd Malvo

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Date published: 3/2/2005

By PAMELA GOULD

The man who sent John Allen Muhammad to death row won't get the chance to do the same to the killer's teenage sniper protege.

In the wake of yesterday's Supreme Court ruling striking down capital punishment for juveniles, Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert said he will not even prosecute sniper Lee Boyd Malvo for the Oct. 9, 2002, shooting death of Dean Harold Meyers in Manassas.

"He's received as much as he can get under the law," Ebert said at a news conference yesterday, referring to life sentences Malvo has already received. "It would be a waste of time and resources for us to try it at this time."

Malvo was 17 at the time of the 13 sniper shootings in Virginia, Maryland and Washington in the fall of 2002. He has been convicted in three of those attacks and is currently serving life without parole in the Virginia prison system.

In November 2003, Ebert won a conviction and death sentence against Muhammad in Meyers' death. He was awaiting the Supreme Court's ruling before deciding whether to pursue a death-penalty case against Malvo.

Prosecutors sought the death penalty for Malvo in the first prosecution against him, for the Oct. 14, 2002, slaying of 47-year-old Linda Franklin outside a Home Depot store in Fairfax County. But a jury recommended life in prison instead, and the judge was required to follow the recommendation.

Malvo reached a plea agreement in Spotsylvania County last fall that resulted in life sentences for the Oct. 4, 2002, wounding of county resident Caroline Seawell and the slaying of Philadelphia businessman Kenneth Bridges a week later. As part of the deal, Malvo agreed to drop his appeal in the Fairfax slaying.

Ebert said he spoke with Linda Franklin's daughter and left a message for Meyers' family after learning of the Supreme Court ruling. He said he disagreed with the decision and might pursue a death sentence if the law changes again.

"In the unlikely event that a future court would reverse itself, why, our case would still be pending and it would be available to go forward at that time," Ebert said.

Michael Arif, one of Malvo's defense attorneys, said he was "elated and very grateful" for the court ruling.


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