24.12.03

Was Washington Sniper spared death because its Christmas?

A divided jury decided to spare the life of 18 year old Washington Sniper Lee Boyd Malvo.

Malvo had indiscriminately slain his series of victims in the Washington area when he was just 17. Having been found guilty of terrorism, weapons and murder charges Malvo could have faced a death penalty - the trial had been brought in Virginia, one of the few states that allows the execution of those under 18 when they committed their crimes.

After deliberating for two days the divided jury could only escape deadlock by sparing the sniper who was sentenced to life without parole.

So did the fact it was Christmas sway the verdict? Malvo's defence attorney certainly thought so while State Prosecutor Robert Horan commented it was not ideal trying people in the run up to Christmas as it was sure to play a part.

So while we worry about the press influencing jurors in this country, over in the US it seems that decisions may vary depending on what time of year it is.

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