Lee Boyd Malvo

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Lee Boyd Malvo

Lee Boyd Malvo (alias John Lee Malvo) (born February 18, 1985), along with John Allen Muhammad, was arrested on October 24, 2002 in connection with the Beltway sniper attacks. A jury convicted Malvo of capital murder on December 18, 2003, and recommended a sentence of life imprisonment without parole on December 23, 2003, which a judge formally agreed with on March 10, 2004. He has since plead guilty to another murder, and is facing additional charges in several states. He was held at Red Onion State Prison, located in Wise County, Virginia's only supermax prison, prior to his extradition to Maryland in May, 2005.



Malvo was born in Kingston, Jamaica, to Una James, a seamstress, and Leslie Samuel Malvo, a mason. His parents were never married, and their relationship ended while Lee was an infant. His father rarely saw him after that, and his mother was often traveling to look for work. Lee was usually placed in the care of friends and relatives.

Lee appears to have attended high school under the name Lee Malvo in Jamaica before he and his mother emigrated to Antigua in 1998. His father said that this was when he last saw his son.

Joining John Allen Muhammad

Una and Lee first met John Allen Muhammad in Antigua around 1999. Although Una and Muhammad were not intimately involved, they developed a strong friendship. Later, Una left Antigua for Fort Myers, Florida, using false documents. She left Lee with Muhammad, planning to have him follow her a few months later. Lee did join his mother for a short time in 2001. In 2002, Lee traveled to Bellingham, Washington, where he lived in a homeless shelter with Muhammad and enrolled in high school with Muhammad listed as his father. Classmates have said he was good in school, polite, well-dressed, and willing to state his opinions, but that he did not make any friends. While in the Tacoma, Washington area, according to his statements to investigators, Malvo shoplifted the Bushmaster XM-15 assault rifle from Bull's Eye Shooter Supply, a dealer for Bushmaster Firearms, Inc., manufacturer and distributor based in Windham, Maine. About the same time, his partner Muhammad, practiced his marksmanship on Bull's Eye firing range. Under federal laws, neither was legally allowed to purchase guns.

Interstate Rampage

In the summer of 2002, Malvo and Muhammad were seen for a short time in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Malvo's fingerprints were also found at the scene of a murder at a liquor store in Montgomery, Alabama, where another employee was seriously wounded, but survived. From there, the rampage and attempt to extort $10 million from the U.S. Government shifted to the Washington, DC area and Virginia.

See article Beltway Sniper Attacks

Criminal prosecutions

After the sniper shootings, Malvo was sent to jail in Fairfax County, Virginia. He was charged by the state of Virginia for two capital crimes: the murder of FBI analyst Linda Franklin "in the commission of an act of terrorism" (an addendum to Virginia law that was added after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks), and the murder of more than one person in a three-year period. He was also charged with the unlawful use of a firearm in the murder of Franklin.

He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to all charges on the grounds that he was under the total control of John Allen Muhammad. One of Malvo's psychiatric witnesses testified that Muhammad, a member of Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam, a black separatist movement, had indoctrinated him into believing that the proceeds of the extortion attempt would be used to begin a new nation of only pure black young persons somewhere in Canada. Most observers believe that the main purpose of the insanity defense was not to gain an acquittal but to introduce otherwise inadmissible evidence about Malvo's childhood and upbringing in order to humanize Malvo and make it more difficult for the jury to impose the death penalty.

After nearly 14 hours of deliberation, a jury in Chesapeake, Virginia, convicted him of both charges on December 18, 2003. On December 23, 2003, a jury sentenced Malvo to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of Franklin. On March 10, 2004, a judge agreed with the verdict and formally sentenced him to life in prison without parole.

During his trial, which was moved from Fairfax County to Chesapeake, Malvo at times seemed uninterested in the legal proceedings, drawing pictures of the judge, lawyers and other people in the courtroom. The presiding judge, Jane Marum Roush, joked with courtroom artists about this incident, stating that their art might have to compete with the defendant's for newspaper and TV coverage.

On October 26, 2004, under a plea-agreement to avoid a possible death penalty, Malvo entered an Alford plea to the charges of murdering Kenneth Bridges and attempting to murder Caroline Seawell Spotsylvania County, Virginia. He also plead guilty to two firearms charges and agree not to appeal his conviction for the murder of Franklin. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole for murder, plus eight years imprisonment for the weapons charges.

One Virginia prosecutor in Prince William County had stated he would wait to decide whether to try him on additional capital charges in his jurisdiction until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on whether juveniles may be subject to the penalty of execution. However, in light of the March 1, 2005 Supreme Court decision in Roper v. Simmons, the prosecutors in Prince William County have decided not pursue the charges against Malvo. However, prosecutors in Maryland, Louisiana and Alabama are still interested in putting both Malvo and Muhammad on trial.

On March 1, 2005, the Supreme Court ruled in Roper v. Simmons that the Eighth Amendment prohibits execution for crimes committed when under the age of 18. As Malvo was 17 when he committed the crimes, he will no longer face the death penalty, but still may be extradited to Alabama, Louisiana, and other states for prosecution.

At the outset of the Beltway sniper prosecutions, the primary reason for extraditing the two suspects from Maryland, where they were arrested, to Virginia, was in fact the differences in how the two states deal with the death penalty. While the death penalty is allowed in Maryland, it was only applied to persons who were adults at the time of their crimes, whereas Virginia had also allowed the death penalty for offenders who had been juveniles when their crimes were committed. At the time of the Roper v. Simmons ruling, Malvo was 20 years old.

In May 2005, Virginia and Maryland reached an agreement to allow Maryland to begin prosecuting some of the pending charges there, and Malvo was extradited to Montgomery County under heavy security.

Civil lawsuit

In 2003, Malvo and Muhammad were named in a major civil lawsuit by the Legal Action Project of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence on behalf of some two of their victims who were seriously wounded and the families of some of those murdered. Although Malvo and Muhammad were each believed to be indigent, co-defendants Bull's Eye Shooter Supply and Bushmaster Firearms contributed to a landmark $2.5 million out-of-court settlement in late 2004.



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