Boston Marathon Bomber Death Sentence Overturned Due to Impartial Jury
Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s death sentence has been overturned in federal appeals court today. The court said the judge on the case did not adequately screen jurors for potential biases.
The Boston Marathon Bombing occurred in Boston, Massachusetts in 2013 when Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, left two homemade pressure-cooker bombs near the finish line of the marathon. The homemade bombs detonated 14 seconds and 210 yards apart at 2:49 p.m. killing Krystle Marie Campbell, Lü Lingzi, and Martin William Richard and injuring several hundred others, including 17 who lost limbs.
Tamerlan was killed a few days after the bombing in a shoot out with police officers while Dzhokhar was apprehended unharmed.
Some of the evidence that Dzhokhar’s lawyer found incriminated the jury for the bias towards the bomber and the fact Judge George O’Toole would not move the trial outside of Boston.
David Patton, Tsarnaev’s lawyer said, “It is now up to the government to determine whether to put the victims and Boston through a second trial, or to allow closure to this terrible tragedy by permitting a sentence of life without the possibility of release.”
Multiple Jury Members Caught Mentioning Opinions of Boston Marathon Bomber
One juror had said in Twitter posts 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.
The three judges all agreed that the death sentence should be tossed. In a concurring opinion, Judge Juan Torruella wrote that the case should never have been tried in Boston.
“If this case did not present a sufficient basis for a change of venue, there are no set of circumstances that will meet this standard, at least not in the First Circuit,” he said.
The three judge panel that overturned the ruling said that U.S. District Judge George O’Toole did not verify that the jurors were impartial to the trial.
O’Toole felt that an impartial and fair jury could be found within Boston. The judges said that the jurors had already formed opinions about Tsarnaev’s guilt before being pooled “because they answered ‘yes’ to the question whether they could decide this high-profile case based on the evidence.” Unfortunately, he did not dig deep enough into the jurors or their social media to see what they had already read or heard about the case.
“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.
Dzhokhar currently sits in a high-security supermax prison in Florence, Colorado with 30 charges again him, including conspiracy and use of a weapon of mass destruction.
Campbell’s mother had this to say, “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.”
President Trump weighed in on the issue while at the 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.”
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