CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County prosecutors say they will ask a judge to reinforce a 40-year prison term for Thomas Mallo, a West Side teen who was convicted of stabbing his elderly neighbor to death in 2009.
Mallo turns 18 in a few weeks and will be eligible for a reconsideration of his 40-year sentence on second-degree murder charges in the killing of 82-year-old Phyllis Jean Phares. He was 14 when police charged him with entering the woman's Frame Street home and stabbing her 35 times with a pocketknife.
"You know, our views won't change as far as what he should be sentenced to," county assistant prosecutor Maryclaire Akers said. "We will be asking the court to sentence him the same as before."
As required by state law, Kanawha County Judge Carrie Webster will reconsider Mallo's sentence because he will be an adult.
Akers pointed to recent charges Mallo faces in Harrison County for reportedly attacking a corrections officer and attempting to escape the West Virginia Industrial Home for the Youth, where he has been staying since his sentencing in 2010, as an indicator that he still has violent tendencies.
Progress reports attached to his Kanawha County court file indicate, however, that his behavior has steadily improved since his incarceration. He has maintained low but passing grades in his classes and has shown promise in group therapy sessions, the reports say.
After his sentencing in 2010, Mallo's lawyer, Kanawha County chief public defender George Castelle, said that his client's behavior dramatically shifted when he was taken to prison, far away from the squalor and abuse he suffered at home, according to court filings.
Feces and filth gave rise to an overwhelming stench that blanketed Mallo's home. Mattresses were uncovered, infested with cockroaches and "soiled to the point of decay." Mallo himself slept on the porch because there were no beds for him inside the house, Castelle said in the filing, quoting a Charleston Police investigative report.