- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 14, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

What happened at an Alexandria ballpark on Wednesday does not bode well for a 32-year-old man being held at Red Onion State Prison in Wise County, Virginia.

Lee Boyd Malvo was 17 years old in October 2002, when he and fellow “Beltway sniper” John Allen Muhammad preyed on sitting ducks in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. Their shooting spree, which already had left a coast-to-coast trail of victims, had D.C.-area residents looking over their shoulders for three weeks. They felt like sitting ducks until the snipers were arrested Oct. 24 in Maryland.

A singular, terrifying situation occurred Wednesday morning in Alexandria, when shortly after sunrise, James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois, used an assault rifle to shoot at unsuspecting targets on a Del Ray neighborhood ball field. Five people were injured, including Rep. Steve Stalise and two U.S. Capitol Police officers. Blessedly, no one died except Hodgkinson.

The ball field, where Republican members of Congress and staffers were practicing for their annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity, is in Virginia, a death penalty state, and where Malvo’s accomplice was executed in 2009.

The Beltway snipers were convicted of 10 killings in Virginia and Maryland, and Malvo was sentenced to four life sentences for the Virginia slayings.

Malvo still sits in prison, known as Inmate No. 330873, as he awaits word on what happens next following a federal judge’s ruling in his case.

See, in late May, U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson vacated all four of Malvo’s life-without-parole sentences and ordered a resentencing.

The judge’s action follows a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said mandatory life sentences for juveniles is unconstitutional and that the high court’s ruling should be applied retroactively.

So although Malvo pleaded guilty to killings in Virginia and agreed to serve two life sentences in Virginia, Judge Jackson applied the Supreme Court’s retroactive ruling. The Virginia ruling does not apply to the six life sentences Malvo received in Maryland, and Malvo’s lawyers have filed state and federal appeals there as well. Maryland is not a death penalty state, even for capital offenses.

The Supreme Court ruling was issued in Miller v. Alabama, and in the 2012 ruling the court decided that “sentencing a child to life without parole is excessive for all but ‘the rare juvenile offender whose crime reflects irreparable corruption.’”

From that, Judge Jackson interpreted that in Malvo’s appeal, a judge must consider whether a juvenile’s crime reflects “irreparable corruption” or “the transient immaturity of youth.”

The sniper’s Virginia fatalities were:

Caroline Seawell, 43, a homemaker shot outside a Michael’s craft store in Spotsylvania.

Daniel Harold Myers, 53, a civil engineer who was pumping gas at a station in Prince William County.

Kenneth Bridge, 53, a businessman who was pumping gas in Spotsylvania.

Linda Moore Franklin, 47, who was shopping with her husband near a Home Depot store in Fairfax County.

The victims in Maryland also were innocently minding their business, not knowing the snipers already had them in the eye of the scopes.

The Beltway snipers, like Hodgkinson, had plenty of practice.

The snipers, for instance, had been using a tree stump at a home in Tacoma, Washington, for target practice. The pair also are linked to killings in Tacoma, as well as Arizona, Louisiana and Alabama.

Hodgkinson shot at trees too, according to a neighbor of more than 20 years. Indeed, police told him to cut it out. (SMH)

Malvo has had a lot to think about since his Oct. 24, 2002, arrest, and a lot of questions he likely has asked himself over and over again.

Now, after Malvo called himself a “monster,” Judge Jackson has tossed this question: Did you kill because of “irreparable corruption” or did you kill because of “the transient immaturity of youth?”

And Malvo, 32, gets to ask himself over and over and over again, “Why did I prey on sitting ducks?”

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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