CHESAPEAKE, Va. – Family members of victims of the Washington-area snipers were disappointed and puzzled Tuesday that Lee Boyd Malvo (search) did not get the death penalty like the mastermind of the attacks, John Allen Muhammad.
A jury took 8 hours over two days before choosing a sentence of life in prison without parole for Malvo, 18.
"There are two people who committed the ultimate crime," said Paul LaRuffa, who prosecutors say was shot at close range by Malvo outside his Maryland restaurant a month before the October 2002 shooting spree that killed 10 people and wounded three.
"One got the ultimate penalty and one didn't," LaRuffa said outside the courthouse. "I ask you, why?"
The sister of James L. "Sonny" Buchanan (search), who was killed in Maryland during the spree, said she too was disappointed, though she accepted the jury's decision.
"I don't think there could be another case that would be more deserving of capital punishment," a tearful Victoria Buchanan Snider said.
Vijay Walekar, who lost his brother Premkumar Walekar in the sniper attacks, also said he had wanted Malvo to be executed.
"What if he runs away again?" Walekar told reporters, referring to Malvo's thwarted escape attempt the night he was arrested.
Relatives of Linda Franklin, whose murder Malvo was convicted of, did not speak outside court. The FBI analyst was shot in the head as she and her husband loaded packages into their car at a Home Depot in northern Virginia.
Katrina Hannum, Franklin's daughter, shook her head and cried when the sentence was read. Her stepfather, William Franklin, stared straight ahead.
Other victims' relatives sat quietly in court, putting their hands on each other's shoulders.
June Boyle, a Fairfax County (search) police detective to whom Malvo confessed to some of the shootings, was visibly upset when the sentence was read. She declined to comment.
Meanwhile, Malvo's mother thanked the jury for not giving her son the death penalty. "I thank God that they spared his life, I thank them for that," Una James, said from Jamaica.
Defense attorney Craig Cooley said Malvo was relieved but "on the other hand, he's 18 and contemplating living the rest of his natural life in a penitentiary."
He said defense lawyers plan to appeal the conviction but he also expects Malvo to be tried elsewhere.