CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An 18-year-old man convicted of a brutal murder on Charleston's West Side when he was a juvenile had his 40-year sentence upheld by Kanawha County Judge Carrie Webster on Friday morning.
Thomas Mallo was convicted of murdering 82-year-old Phyllis Phares in her home in the summer of 2009. Mallo, who was 14 at the time of the murder, lived across from Phares on Frame Street.
He stabbed the elderly woman 35 times before cutting her throat so deeply that she was almost decapitated.
Mallo was tried as an adult and Webster sentenced him to the maximum for second-degree murder -- 40 years. However, since he was a juvenile at the time, state law required his sentence be reviewed when he became an adult.
Kanawha County Chief Public Defender George Castelle asked Webster to reconsider her original sentence based on the fact that Mallo had grown up in an abusive, filthy home where sexual abuse, cruelty and crime ran rampant.
Castelle also asked Webster to consider that Mallo was a juvenile when he murdered Phares and that the U.S. Supreme Court repeatedly has said juveniles should be treated differently than adults.
Mallo also had not committed any violent acts while incarcerated at both the Tiger Morton Juvenile Detention facility in Dunbar and the Salem Industrial Home in Harrison County -- except for one instance on June 30, 2012.
On that day, Mallo was accused of beating of a Salem guard during an escape attempt.
Webster was not swayed by the arguments. Although she said she took the circumstances of his home life into account, she did not think it was appropriate to reduce his sentence.
"It (the murder) was so violent and there was nothing I could find in the record that this type of act is less than deserving of the maximum," Webster told Mallo.
A visibly emotional Webster illustrated her point by saying Mallo had stabbed an 82-year-old woman over 30 times and that Phares "died pleading for her life."
Mallo stood before a packed courtroom filled with members of his family as well as Phares' to give a brief statement before his sentence was again handed down.
"I want Mrs. Phares' family to know that I'm really sorry for what I done," he said.
However, Karen Morris, Phares' daughter, did not believe his apology was sincere.
"I think it might have been something his lawyers told him to say," Morris said after the sentencing.
Morris stood before the court and pleaded for Webster to reaffirm her original sentence of 40 years.
"Today I am asking that the scales of justice be balanced and that the rights of my mother and family not be forgotten," she said.
Morris and her husband discovered the body of her mother three and a half years ago today, she said.
"Thomas Mallo does not deserve to walk the streets of our society ever again," Morris said.
Morris described her mother as being a "beautiful person," who was caring and loving.