SUPREME COURT TO CONSIDER REINSTATING BOSTON MARATHON BOMBER’S DEATH SENTENCE

Dzhokhar Anzorovich Tsarnaev (Джохар Анзорович Царнаев), more known for the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed 3 people, had his federal death sentence reversed last year. This year, he may be placed on federal death row again after the Supreme Court today decided to take up the case.

SCOTUS— As I was getting ready to report on which death row inmates had exhausted their appeals at the Supreme Court today, I noticed a familiar name that’s notorious to many people in the country. Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, a.k.a. the Boston Marathon bomber. After looking into it more, I found out that the government has been trying to reinstate his federal death sentence for a few months now. The Supreme Court may very well put the Kyrgyzstan native back on America’s federal death row.

Tsarnaev pictured in a handout photo that was presented as evidence by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston in 2015. SOURCE: Reuters.

Tsarnaev is currently imprisoned in a high-security federal prison in Colorado after having his death sentence reversed. It was reversed when 3 federal judges decided he did not receive a fair trial due to the possibility of publicity tainting the case.

This case might have a conflict with the Biden administration considering president Joe Biden openly opposes the death penalty and has hinted at abolishing the federal death penalty. The case was brought up back when the government asked the court to take up the case when Donald Trump was in office.

Going back to Biden’s opposition to the death penalty, his lawyers had not withdrawn the petition at the Supreme Court even though justices have spent months considering intervening with it. The White house press secretary, Jen Psaki, today told reporters that Biden, although horrified by Tsarnaev’s actions, has “grave concerns about whether capital punishment, as currently implemented, is consistent with the values that are fundamental to our sense of justice and fairness.”

THE CRIME

On April 15th, 2013, the Boston Marathon was happening in Copley Square in Boston, Massachusetts. Brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were there with 2 homemade pressure-cooker bombs. Both bombs were near the finish line. At 2:49 p.m, both bombs were set off, causing mass destruction. 3 people were killed and over 260 were injured. Their motive was retribution for U.S. military attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq.

An image taken right after the first pressure cooker bomb was set off. SOURCE: Aaron Tang.

3 days later, on the 18th, MIT Police Officer Sean Collier was shot and killed in a failed attempt by the brothers to steal Collier’s gun. There was a shootout between the brothers and authorities. Tamerlan was shot during the shootout and died the next day, but Dzhokhar managed to escape in an SUV.

On the evening of April 19th, Dzhokhar was found, unarmed and wounded, hiding in a boat on a trailer in Watertown, Massachusetts.

THE TRIAL

Tsarnaev was charged using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and with malicious destruction of property resulting in death. He said later during questioning that he and his brother next intended to set off explosives in Times Square, New York. He was convicted on April 8th, 2015, and was found guilty on all charges against him. He was officially sentenced to death on June 24th, 2015. His death sentence was vacated in July 2020. However, convictions and other charges remain in place, so he remains serving several life sentences in a Colorado federal prison.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR DZHOKHAR?

There is no doubt that he will be spending the rest of his days in prison considering his crimes. The real question is, by the death penalty or dying in prison? Dzhokhar’s attorneys have stated that both he and Tamerlan were responsible for the bomb detonation but Tamerlan was the mastermind. Whether that plays a factor in the trial, we may not know. It’s all up to the Supreme Court now.

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