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Supreme Court to hear sentencing case for ‘Washington sniper’

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He has described himself as a “monster” and confessed to his crimes. Lee Boyd Malvo was 17 years old when he and an accomplice carried out a deadly three-week shooting spree that terrorized the Washington area in 2002.

Malvo was sentenced to life in prison without parole and the Supreme Court is to hear arguments on Wednesday on whether such a sentence can be meted out to a juvenile.

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The nation’s top court is hearing the case after a court in Virginia ruled that Malvo deserved another sentencing hearing because his age at the time was not taken into account.

Virginia’s attorney general appealed the ruling and the Supreme Court will be deciding whether its 2012 and 2016 rulings that mandatory life sentences for minors are unconstitutional applies retroactively to Malvo’s case.

The series of sniper shootings paralyzed the Washington area. Ten people were killed and three wounded in Virginia, Maryland and the US capital.

Malvo, who was 17 when he was arrested, was given a total of 10 sentences of life in prison without parole in Maryland and Virginia.

Malvo’s partner in the shooting spree, John Allen Muhammad, was executed in 2009.

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During the October 2-22, 2002 shooting spree, Muhammad, a 41-year-old US Army veteran and skilled marksman, and Malvo picked off random victims with a high-powered sniper rifle.

The killings terrified an area still living in dread of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks and deadly anthrax mailings a year earlier.

People would squat down by their cars as they pumped gas, run from their vehicles into work, or just stay home.

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Malvo and Muhammad, who was a father-like figure to the teenager, were apprehended after an exhaustive manhunt by federal and local police.

Muhammad’s motive was unclear, although one of his ex-wives alleged he intended to shoot her and reclaim custody of their three children.

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Malvo, in a 2012 interview with The Washington Post, said “I was a monster.”

“If you look up the definition, that’s what a monster is,” he said. “I was a ghoul. I was a thief. I stole people’s lives. I did someone else’s bidding just because they said so.”

– ‘Prison with no hope’-

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Malvo’s lawyers acknowledge that whatever the nine-member Supreme Court rules, he is unlikely to be freed anytime soon.

Nevertheless, the court hearing has resurfaced strong emotions surrounding the case.

The Trump administration has argued that the court should not provide an “escape hatch” that would allow Malvo to avoid stiff punishment for his “heinous crimes.”

In a brief, the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center said “liberty and justice for all does not allow the consideration of only the interests of criminal defendants.

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“They demand that victims’ interests be fully considered.”

At least one of Malvo’s victims, Paul LaRuffa, who was shot five times, supports revisiting his sentencing.

“After my experience, I was of the opinion that the life without parole sentence for Malvo was absolutely justified using the argument that, at 17 years old, he knew the difference between right and wrong,” LaRuffa told AFP.

“Since that time, I have learned more about juvenile brain development, psychological development, as well as many successful juvenile rehabilitation stories.

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“It was easy for me, after my experience, to have the, ‘Put him in jail and throw away the key,’ opinion, but my view has changed, not necessarily concerning Malvo in particular, but the many other youthful offenders convicted and sentenced to life without parole.

“I feel that there is a better answer in our justice system than dooming juveniles to a life of 40, 50 or 60 plus years in prison with no hope.”


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Trump’s use of ‘executive privilege’ to keep Bolton from testifying could blow up in his face: legal experts

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If all Democrats in the U.S. Senate voted in favor of featuring witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial and at least four Republicans joined them, former National Security Adviser John Bolton could be subpoenaed to testify — in which case, Team Trump might claim executive privilege in an effort to prevent that from happening. But legal experts Ryan Goodman and Andrew Weissmann, in a January 28 article for Just Security, offer some reasons why such an executive privilege assertion wouldn’t serve the Trump White House well.

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Alan Dershowitz in 2016: Corrupt Donald Trump will violate ‘international and domestic laws’

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Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, a member of President Donald Trump's impeachment legal team, said in 2016 that Trump was more corrupt than Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. He also predicted that Trump would continue to be corrupt, if elected.

This article was originally published at Salon

Dershowitz, who voted for Clinton, dismissed allegations of corruption Trump raised against the Clinton Foundation in a radio interview flagged by CNN's K-File.

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‘You’re lying again’: Twitter fires back at Lindsey Graham’s claim that ‘Biden’s behavior was harmful to the United States’

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In a series of tweets this Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) gave his opinion that additional testimony in the impeachment effort against President Trump is "unnecessary," regardless of the leaked revelations from an unpublished manuscript of John Bolton's upcoming book. According to Graham, "one could assume everything attributable to John Bolton is accurate and still the House case would fall well below the standards to remove a president from office."

Graham then turned the focus of his thread to Joe Biden, writing that "there is ample evidence for the President to be concerned about conflicts of interest on behalf of Hunter Biden and that Vice President Joe Biden’s failure to take appropriate action was unacceptable."

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