Teen Sniper Malvo Gets Life Without Parole

A judge sentenced teenage Beltway Sniper Lee Boyd Malvo (search) to life in prison without parole Wednesday, but he may still face the death penalty if other states have their way.

It is unclear what will happen next with the 19-year-old, who took part in an October 2002 killing spree in the Washington, D.C., area that left 10 people dead.

Prosecutors in other states, including Alabama and Louisiana, are seeking Malvo's extradition to face potential death-penalty charges there for killings that occurred in the weeks before the D.C. murders.

Malvo was sentenced a day after sniper mastermind John Allen Muhammad (search) was given the death penalty for one of the murders, and his prosecution may not be over as well.

Prosecutors in Prince William County, who obtained the death penalty against Muhammad, initially said they wanted to seek the death penalty against Malvo. But lead prosecutor Paul Ebert said Wednesday he will wait for a pending U.S. Supreme Court case on the execution of juveniles before deciding whether to proceed.

Malvo prosecutor Robert F. Horan Jr. announced after Wednesday's hearing that he intends to prosecute Muhammad, perhaps by the end of the summer.

The teenager was convicted in December in the shooting of Linda Franklin (search), an FBI analyst cut down by a single bullet to the head outside a Home Depot in Fairfax County, Va.

He was convicted of two counts of capital murder: one alleging Franklin's slaying was part of a series of murders, the other alleging the killing was intended to terrorize the population. Either count could have brought the death penalty.

Muhammad also has been indicted in Franklin's murder.

His defense team had argued that Malvo — 17 at the time of the shootings — had been molded into a killer by the charismatic Muhammad and had come to regard Muhammad as a father figure.

Doug Keefer, a juror who plans to write a book about the Malvo trial, said after the hearing that he was comfortable with the sentence.

"The jury made the right choice. For me the important part was he was convicted of the capital murder charges. It's my opinion there was some influence from John Muhammad. I don't think he would have been here without Muhammad."

Keefer's comment was echoed by defense lawyer Craig Cooley. "We do not believe anyone could have observed the evidence ... and believed Lee Malvo would be here except for the influence of John Muhammad."

"Lee knows he has much to face, much to pay for," said Cooley.

The outcome of Wednesday's hearing was predetermined: Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush had to follow a jury's recommendation of life in prison as Malvo's punishment for the killings that terrorized the Washington, D.C., region, according to Virginia law.

While Malvo didn't speak during the hearing, his accomplice took the opportunity during his sentencing Tuesday to again deny any role in the killings, echoing a claim of innocence he made in his opening statement to the jury when he briefly served as his own attorney.

"Just like I said at the beginning, I had nothing to do with this, and I'll say again, I had nothing to do with this," Muhammad said.

But Circuit Judge LeRoy F. Millette Jr. (search) said the evidence of Muhammad's guilt was "overwhelming" and sentenced him to death.

"These offenses are so vile that they were almost beyond comprehension," Millette said.

Unlike in the Malvo case, Millette could have reduced the jury's recommendation of death for Muhammad to life in prison without parole. Virginia law allows a judge to reduce a jury's recommended sentence but not to increase it.

About 50 family members of sniper victims were in the courtroom Tuesday for Muhammad's sentencing. One silently shook his fist as Millette announced the sentence.

"Justice has been served today," said Sonia Wills, mother of victim Conrad Johnson, who would have been 37 on Sunday. "I can go to my son's grave and wish him a happy birthday."

Muhammad, 43, was convicted of capital murder for the Oct. 9, 2002, murder of Dean Harold Meyers (search) at a gas station near Manassas, Va.

During Muhammad's trial, prosecutors described him as "captain of a killing team" and portrayed him as a father figure to Malvo, who was 17 at the time of the sniper spree.

The killings began on Oct. 2, 2002, when the pair shot a 55-year-old man to death outside a Wheaton, Md., supermarket. The following day, five people were killed in the Washington area.

Muhammad and Malvo were captured Oct. 24 at a highway rest stop near Myersville, Md., in a car that had been altered to allow someone to fire a high-powered rifle from inside the trunk.

Defense lawyer Peter Greenspun pleaded for Millette to show mercy on Muhammad, saying his client is not inherently evil.

"I've represented a lot of bad guys," Greenspun said. "I've represented guys that you look them in the eye and see evil. I've spent a lot of time with John Allen Muhammad and that's not him."

Ebert disagreed. "I see nothing but pure evil," he said after the hearing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.