U.S. Supreme Court approves reinstating Boston Marathon bomber’s death sentence.
WASHINGTON – Wednesday’s arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court were heard in connection with the federal government’s attempt to restore Dzhokhar Takaranev’s death sentence in Boston for his involvement in the attack on the Marathon 2013. The attack left three dead and more than 260 injured.
His administration decided to appeal against a lower court ruling that overturned Tsarnaev’s death sentence, despite President Joe Biden’s stated intention to abolish capital punishment at the federal level.
Before Trump took over 13 executions during the final six months of his term, no federal inmates had been executed in 17 years.
One of the issues before them is whether the media coverage that the bombing received may have affected jurors.
The lower court did not adequately address this question, which found that U.S. District Judge George O’Toole (who presided over the trial) did not sufficiently address it during the jury selection process.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked why jurors were not more closely questioned regarding their exposure to media coverage.
Sotomayor stated that there was publicity the day of the event. “Publicity was also generated in the days following.
Publicity was created about the suggestions of significant politicians and others regarding punishment.
Eric Feigin, Deputy Solicitor General, argued that the appellate court should have allowed the death penalty to stand.
He stated that a trial judge “impaneled an impartial jury which heard overwhelming evidence regarding (Tsarnaev’s) actions and motivations.”
Feigin stated that the jury had “recorded a sound judgment against a motivated terrorist, who willfully maimed and harmed innocents including an eight-year-old boy in support of jihad.”
Justices are also looking into whether O’Toole excluded evidence related to the 2011 triple murder linked to Tsarnaev’s older sibling.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers, who are now 28 and were 19 at the time, argued that he was a secondary participant in the bombing to Tamerlan, whom they described as an “authority figure” with violent Islamic extremist beliefs.
Victims of the Bombing are split over whether Tsarnaev should die.
Tsarnaev is appealing a 2020 ruling by a lower court that ordered a new trial to determine the sentence he should be given for the death penalty-eligible offenses for which he was convicted.
Despite what the Supreme Court decides in its ruling by June 30, Tsarnaev will be kept in prison for the remainder of his life. Tsarnaev is currently in federal prison at “Supermax” in Florence, Colorado.
Two homemade pressure-cooker bombs were detonated by the brothers Tsarnaev at the marathon’s finish line on April 15, 2013. After a shootout with police, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed.
A police officer was also killed days later.
Jurors found Dzhokhar Taranov guilty of all the 30 charges against him. They decided to be executed for the bomb he planted, which killed Martin Richard (8 years old) and Lingzi Lu (23) from China. Krystle Campbell (29-year-old restaurant manager) was killed in the second bomb.
The 1st U.S. based in Boston overturned Tsarnaev’s death sentence, but not his convictions. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled O’Toole failed to screen jurors for bias in light of widespread news coverage of the bombings.
The Justice Department argued that the 1st Circuit did not respect O’Toole’s broad authority as a trial judge in managing jury selection. This is contrary to court precedents.
Also, the department argued that the outcome would not have been affected if Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been admitted to testify about his possible involvement in the triple murders.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers claim O’Toole’s decisions denied him his constitutional right of a fair trial. They also alleged that O’Toole’s decisions violated the Federal Death Penalty Act, which sets out the procedures for imposing federal death penalties.