WASHINGTON - Lawyers for convicted sniper Lee Boyd Malvo said Friday that they have negotiated a plea deal with prosecutors in Spotsylvania County, Va., that would give him another life prison sentence and rule out the death penalty.
If the agreement goes through, Malvo will withdraw the appeal of his first conviction, in Fairfax County, Va., which carried a life sentence without parole, his attorneys said.
Malvo and John Allen Muhammad, 43, were arrested in October 2002 after a series of shootings in the Washington, D.C., area left 10 dead. They were then linked to eight more shootings in 2002, four of them fatal, including a slaying in Tacoma.
The deal with Spotsylvania does not affect prosecutions in any of the five other jurisdictions where Malvo faces murder charges for his role in the October 2002 sniper shootings. Of those jurisdictions, Prince William County, Va.; Montgomery, Ala.; and Baton Rouge, La., have pending capital murder counts against Malvo; Maryland and the District of Columbia do not have the death penalty for juveniles. Malvo was 17 when the shootings occurred.
Prince William prosecutors have said that, before launching a prosecution of Malvo, they will await a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of executing juveniles. A pending case on the issue is scheduled for oral argument next month.
A court date has been set for Oct. 26 in Spotsylvania, and an order has been entered to move Malvo, 19, from the Red Onion State Prison in southwest Virginia, said Circuit Court chief deputy clerk Cynthia Jessup.
Malvo's guilty plea would be for the Oct. 11, 2002, slaying of Kenneth Bridges, 53, and the Oct. 4, 2002, wounding of Caroline Seawell, then 43. Bridges was a father of six from Philadelphia who was shot while pumping gas at a station off Interstate 95.
Seawell had just finished shopping for Halloween decorations at a Michaels craft store when she was shot as she stood behind her van in the parking lot. She testified at Muhammad's and Malvo's trials last fall.
Michael Arif, one of Malvo's attorneys, confirmed that Malvo intends to plead guilty to one count of capital murder and one count of malicious wounding. In return, Arif said, Spotsylvania Commonwealth's Attorney William Neely has agreed not to seek the death penalty.
In March, when reports of a plea agreement with Malvo first surfaced, Neely said that he planned to wait to prosecute Malvo until after Prince William prosecutors tried their case.
"It's silly to engage in overkill," Neely said in March. "You can only serve one death sentence, and you can only serve one life sentence."
Arif said Malvo must sign the necessary paperwork to complete the deal.
He added, "I only wish that it was a universal settlement" of all the pending sniper-related cases.