Changing the Marathon Bomber Penalty by Boston Appeals Court

3 min readAug 1, 2020

Changing the Marathon Bomber penalty by Boston appeals court on Friday. A federal appeals court overturned Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s death penalty for helping carry out of the 2013 attack, which killed three people and injured more than 260 others.

Tsarnaev and his older brother set off a pair of homemade pressed bombs near the finish line of the world-renowned race, tearing through the packed crowd and causing many people to lose legs.

A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sustained Tsarnaev’s sentence but ordered a new analysis over what sentence Tsarnaev should receive.

Thompson said the pervasive news coverage of the bombings and their aftermath featured “bone-chilling” photos and videos of Tsarnaev, 27, and his brother carrying backpacks at the marathon and of those injured and killed near the finish line.

Thompson said the judge believed jurors eligible who had “already formed an opinion that Dzhokhar was guilty and he did so in large part because they answered ‘yes’ to the question whether they could decide this high-profile case based on the evidence.”

Changing the Marathon Bomber penalty to imprisonment forever

“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,” according to the court.

While all three judges agreed the death sentence should be overturned, U.S. Circuit Judge, Juan Torruella, said he believed Tsarnaev was also denied the right to a fair trial when the judge declined to let the case be tried outside of Boston.

Jurors found that Tsarnaev and his older brother Tamerlan, who died after a firefight with police in the bombing’s aftermath, carried out the bombings at the marathon’s finish line, turning one of Boston’s most celebrated annual events into the worst domestic terrorist attack since Sept. 11, 2001. The First Circuit judges wrote that the brothers were “radical jihadists bent on killing Americans” and said, “the duo caused battlefield-like carnage.”

Disagreements of overturning the sentence

Liz Norden, the mother of two men who lost legs in the bombings, said the decision was a bitter disappointment.

“If this case didn’t deserve the death penalty, what would?” she said. “He admitted to it. His attorney admitted to it. I’m in disbelief.”

A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said prosecutors were analyzing the judgment and had no comment. Prosecutors could ask for a hearing from the full appeals court or go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

But George Vien, a former federal prosecutor, said the appeals court seemed to hold Judge O’Toole, whom he called a “very experienced and conscientious judge,” to an impossible standard.

He said the judges applied the Patriarca rule “in a way that required something close to perfection,” which he said was not the standard of jury choosing. “The idea that he is going to be able to pick a jury and monitor all their Twitter feeds is ridiculous, and it’s unrealistic.”

Juror decision and reactions

Juror 286, a restaurant manager who had been chosen as forewoman of the jury, retweeted a post praising “all of the law enforcement professionals who went through hell to bring in that piece of garbage.”

Juror 138, who worked for the Peabody water department, had posted on Facebook that he was in the jury pool for the case, prompting a friend to comment that “if you’re really on jury duty, this guy got no shot in hell.”

Prosecutors pushed back against those arguments, saying that Juror 138 “never endorsed” the “flippant and joking remarks” left by his friends on Facebook, and that Juror 286 may have failed to disclose her Twitter posts because she misunderstood the instruction.




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