Boston Marathon Bomber's Death Sentence Scrapped
Updated: Aug 3, 2020
On April 15, 2013, during the annual Boston Marathon, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev detonated two pressure cooker bombs killing 3 people, injuring over two hundred others including 17 who lost their limbs. 4 days later, Tamerlan was shot by police then later run over by his brother during his escape. He died not too long after that.
Dzhokhar, however, was found hiding in a boat in the backyard of a Watertown resident. He was shot and wounded by police before they later took him into custody. The bomber was convicted of 30 charges, including the use of a weapon of mass destruction. Two months later, he was sentenced to death.
On Friday, July 31, 2020, a federal appeals court threw out Dzhokhar's death sentence saying the judge who oversaw the case did not properly screen each juror for potential biases. This comes a month after the Supreme Court cleared the way for federal executions to resume.
A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new penalty-phase trial on whether Tsarnaev should be executed for the attack in Boston. The judges said:
But make no mistake: Dzhokhar will spend his remaining days locked up in prison, with the only matter remaining being whether he will die by execution.
Tsarnaev's lawyers acknowledged that he and his brother were responsible for the attacks but have argued that Dzhokhar is less culpable than his brother who was said to be the mastermind behind the attack. They also pointed out two jurors' social media posts that proved these individuals held strong opinions regarding the Boston attack. This would later become the main focus of the appeals judges.
These social media posts included dozens of tweets, including one calling Tsarnaev a "piece of garbage."
In December, those judges questioned the fact that these two jurors had not been dismissed or further questioned before the trial by the trial judge. This then caused the United States Court of Appeals of the First Circuit to overturn Dzhokhar's death sentence.
Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston said in a statement:
The Boston community will never forget the tragic events of April 15, 2013. Precious souls were lost, and countless lives were changed forever. Since the first trial, we have always known that the perpetrator of that horrific violence would never leave the four corners of a prison cell.
Caiden Anderson is an Opinion Contributor for The National Times.