Boston Marathon death sentence overturned at appeal

Joanna Estrada
August 1, 2020

A U.S. federal appeals court on Friday (Saturday NZT) 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.

Friday's decision means that the Tsarnaev's death sentence is vacated and that three of his convictions are reversed.

Mr. Tsarnaev is being held at the US "supermax" prison in Florence, Colo., a site so remote and well-secured that it is nicknamed the "Alcatraz of the Rockies".

A federal jury in 2015 found Mr. Tsarnaev guilty of all 30 counts he faced and later determined he deserved execution for a bomb he planted that killed eight-year-old Martin Richard and 23-year-old Chinese exchange student Lingzi Lu. Tamerlan was wounded and run over by a auto his brother was driving as Dzhokhar fled the scene.

"A core promise of our criminal-justice system is that even the very worst among us deserves to be fairly tried and lawfully punished", wrote Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson in the 224-page opinion, noting the district court judge had failed to adequately vet the trial's jurors for bias.

Torruella also noted that three of the 12 jurors who voted admitted before the trial that they were convinced Tsarnaev was guilty, while another two said they believed he took part in the bomb attack.

The 1st Circuit said the "pervasive" media coverage featuring "bone-chilling still shots and videos" of the bombing and days long manhunt required the judge to run a jury selection process "sufficient to identify prejudice". Those include usage of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death, as well as aiding and abetting. One of the posts called Tsarnaev a "piece of garbage".

The April 15, 2013, attack in Boston left three dead and injured more than 260 others who were in the area after two pressure-cooker bombs were detonated by the Tsarnaev brothers.

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. 1968) - only then can the judge reliably assess whether a potential juror can ignore that publicity, as the law requires.

The decision cites two errors: the judge in Tsarnaev's convictions did not meet Patriarca standards and denied Tsarnaev's post-trial motion for judgments of acquittal.

A panel of three judges ruled on Friday that the jury that convicted him was tainted by the intense news coverage in the aftermath of the bombing and ensuing manhunt.

"I am sorry for the lives I have taken, for the suffering that I have caused you, for the damage I have done, irreparable damage", Mr. Tsarnaev said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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