US court over­turns Bos­ton Marathon bomber’s death sen­tence

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Alanna Durkin Richer

A fed­eral ap­peals court on Fri­day tossed the death sen­tence of Dzhokhar Tsar­naev, the man con­victed in the 2013 Bos­ton Marathon bomb­ing.

A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals or­dered a new penalty-phase trial, find­ing that the judge who over­saw the case didn’t suf­fi­ciently vet ju­rors for bi­ases.

“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,” the judges said.

The April 15, 2013, at­tack killed three peo­ple and in­jured more than 260 oth­ers.

Tsar­naev’s lawyers ac­knowl­edged at the be­gin­ning of his trial that he and his older brother, Tamer­lan Tsar­naev, set off the two bombs at the marathon fin­ish line. But they ar­gued that Dzhokhar Tsar­naev is less cul­pa­ble than his brother, who they said was the mas­ter­mind be­hind the at­tack.

Tamer­lan Tsar­naev died in a gun­bat­tle with po­lice a few days af­ter the bomb­ing. Dzhokhar Tsar­naev is now be­hind bars at a high-se­cu­rity su­per­max prison in Florence, Colorado.

Tsar­naev’s at­tor­neys iden­ti­fied a slew of is­sues with his trial, but said in a brief filed with the court that the “first fun­da­men­tal er­ror” was the judge’s re­fusal to move the case out of Bos­ton. They also pointed to so­cial me­dia posts from two ju­rors sug­gest­ing they har­bored strong opin­ions even be­fore the 2015 trial started.

The ap­peals judges, in a hear­ing on the case in early De­cem­ber, de­voted a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of ques­tions to the ju­ror bias ar­gu­ment.

They asked why the two ju­rors had not been dis­missed, or at least why the trial judge had not asked them fol­low-up ques­tions af­ter the posts came to light on the eve of the trial. The judges noted that the Bos­ton court has a long-stand­ing rule obli­gat­ing such an in­quiry.

Tsar­naev’s lawyers say one of the ju­rors — who would go on to be­come the jury’s foreper­son — pub­lished two dozen tweets in the wake of the bomb­ings. One post af­ter Tsar­naev’s cap­ture called him a “piece of garbage.”

Tsar­naev was con­victed on 30 charges, in­clud­ing con­spir­acy and use of a weapon of mass de­struc­tion.

FBI

Dzhokhar Tsar­naev was con­victed in the 2013 at­tack that killed three peo­ple.

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