On Wednesday, a jury in Boston found Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty of capital murder. The prosecution went 30 for 30 on all counts, including all 17 charges that include a penalty of either death or life in prison.
Yesterday, U.S. District Judge George O’Toole announced that the second phase in Tsarnaev’s trial—the penalty phase—will begin on April 21st. Attorneys for both sides will present before the same jury on “aggravating and mitigating factors.” This means that the prosecution will (most likely) present evidence that supports the maximum penalty, while defense counsel does her best to keep her client alive.
Details from HuffPo:
The defense is expected to mount a more robust argument to spare their client from the death chamber than they presented to the jury for deliberation about his guilt. They had argued that Tamerlan was a dominant figure in Dzhokhar’s life who coerced his younger sibling into joining him in the attack, but only called four witnesses over two days.
“The defendant has requested that the penalty phase commence in approximately two weeks so as to, among other things, allow the defendant additional time to resolve outstanding logistical issues with a number of potential witnesses,” O’Toole said in his order. “It is not uncommon for there to be a brief recess between phases in a capital case.”
Some observers believe the defense will call psychiatrists or other medical experts to testify that Tsarnaev’s youth made him to vulnerable to his brother’s will
“I think they are going to try everything they can to save their client’s life,” said Brad Bailey, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Boston who’s now a defense lawyer.
The start date is not insignificant. It avoids—narrowly—both the anniversary of Tsarnaev’s attack, and this year’s Marathon. I think it’s obvious that emotions would be running high no matter what start date was chosen, but this year’s Boston Marathon is on April 20; that’s just one day before arguments commence.
That being said, does it really matter when the jury hears these arguments? Normally, high profile cases like these generate a discussion about the death penalty, its application, the fallibility of man and science, and on and on it goes. This time, while I’ve seen thinkpieces sitting on either side of the issue, I haven’t seen much debate about whether or not Tsarnaev has earned the right to a large needle in his forearm.
Not even on Facebook. I’m not being glib when I say that to me, that’s huge. At any rate, this could be a good sign for the prosecution. They need a unanimous verdict to send Tsarnaev to the death chamber.
During the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Aloke Chakravarty said that Tsarnaev attacked Boston because he “wanted to punish America for what it was doing to his people.” Maybe we as Americans are collectively ready to punish Tsarnaev for what he did to ours.DONATE
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