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Court overturns Boston Marathon bomber's death sentence

A federal appeals court Friday threw out Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s death sentence in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, saying the judge who oversaw the case did not adequately screen jurors for potential biases.

A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new penalty-phase trial on whether the 27-year-old Tsarnaev should be executed for the attack that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.

“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, more than six month after arguments were heard in the case.

An email seeking comment was sent to an attorney for Tsarnaev. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston said they were reviewing the opinion and had no immediate comment.

The mother of Krystle Campbell, the 29-year-old killed in the attack, expressed outrage at the court's decision.

“I just don’t understand it,” Patricia Campbell told The Boston Globe. “It’s just terrible that he’s allowed to live his life. It’s unfair. He didn’t wake up one morning and decide to do what he did. He planned it out. He did a vicious, ugly thing.”

Former Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officer Dic Donohue, who was severely injured in a gunfight with the brothers, said the ruling was not surprising to him.

“And in any case, he won’t be getting out and hasn’t been able to harm anyone since he was captured," he tweeted.

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 Dzhokar 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 April 15, 2013, bombing. Dzhokar Tsarnaev is now behind bars at a high-security supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.

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

Prosecutors told jurors that the men carried out the attack to punish the United States for its wars in Muslim countries. In the boat where Tsarnaev was found hiding, he had scrawled a confession that referred to the wars and wrote, among other things, “Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop.”

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.

One juror had said in Twitter posts that that she was “locked down” with her family during the manhunt and retweeted another post calling Tsarnaev a “piece of garbage,” but later told the court she had not commented on the case or been asked to shelter in place, the defense said. On the day of Tsarnaev’s sentencing, the juror changed her Facebook profile picture to an image that said “BOSTON STRONG,” a rallying cry used in the wake of the bombing, the attorneys said.

Tsarnaev's lawyers pushed several times to move the trial from Boston, arguing the intense media scrutiny and number of people touched by the bombings in the city would taint the jury pool. But U.S. District Judge George O’Toole refused, saying he believed a fair and impartial jury could be found in the city.

The 1st Circuit said the “pervasive” media coverage featuring “bone-chilling still shots and videos” of the bombing and dayslong manhunt required the judge to run a jury selection process “sufficient to identify prejudice."

But O'Toole fell short, the judges said.

They said O'Toole deemed jurors who had already formed the opinion that Tsarnaev was guilty qualified “because they answered ‘yes’ to the question whether they could decide this high-profile case based on the evidence.” Yet he didn't sufficiently dig into what jurors had read or heard about the case, the judges said.

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by Anonymousreply 1408/02/2020

"By not having the jurors identify what it was they already thought they knew about the case, the judge made it too difficult for himself and the parties to determine both the nature of any taint (e.g., whether the juror knew something prejudicial not to be conceded at trial) and the possible remedies for the taint," the judges wrote.

President Donald Trump weighed in on the ruling during an address to supporters on the tarmac of Tampa International Airport.

"I see in Boston, where you have the animal that killed so many people during the Boston Marathon,” Trump said. “They just sent this conviction for the death penalty back to the lower courts so they’ll argue about that for a long time. It’s ridiculous.”

by Anonymousreply 107/31/2020

"Good, More ass for me."

by Anonymousreply 207/31/2020

What fresh hell is this?

by Anonymousreply 307/31/2020

He’s not getting to “live his life”. He’s in prison forever.

I’m not sure how often MA executes people, but I’d bet it’s not very often.

by Anonymousreply 407/31/2020

He's young. I'm fine with him spending the rest of his life in jail getting fucked and beaten everyday until it drives him to suicide.

by Anonymousreply 507/31/2020

This is NOT going to go over well in working-class Irish Catholic Boston. Those people are completely nuts about seeking revenge. If it were left to them, they would get to watch him die slowly over the course of a few days via the Death by a Thousand Cuts, which they would administer themselves.

by Anonymousreply 607/31/2020

oh, look! the Law & Order troll is at it again?

by Anonymousreply 707/31/2020

[quote] This is NOT going to go over well in working-class Irish Catholic Boston. Those people are completely nuts about seeking revenge.

I think they were just biding their time R6, hoping that justice would prevail.

Since it's clear that justice will not prevail, I predict that Zhokar is going to have an untimely accident very soon.

by Anonymousreply 807/31/2020

The fact he's a killer just makes him all the hotter

by Anonymousreply 907/31/2020

[quote]Since it's clear that justice will not prevail, I predict that Zhokar is going to have an untimely accident very soon.

He is in a Supermax prison. If any accidents happen they'll know just who did it.

by Anonymousreply 1007/31/2020

I wonder if they will bring him back to Boston for the new hearing or do it by camera.

[quote] I’m not sure how often MA executes people, but I’d bet it’s not very often.

He is in Federal Prison, so that means the Fed would execute him if it ever comes to that.

by Anonymousreply 1107/31/2020

Wonder what he looks like now?

Remember when he was he "heartthrob terrorist"?

by Anonymousreply 1207/31/2020

I bet he’s fat now.

A while back, there was an article about Tamerlane’s widow. She was basically ensconced in that grifty family. Is it Stockholm Syndrome? She had been such a normal girl until she got mixed up with those people. Her poor parents. Oh well. Her choice, I guess.

by Anonymousreply 1307/31/2020

The brother was hotter.

by Anonymousreply 1408/02/2020
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