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Appeals Court Vacates Boston Marathon Bomber Death Penalty

Appeals Court Vacates Boston Marathon Bomber Death Penalty

“Dzhokhar will remain confined to prison for the rest of his life, with the only question remaining being whether the government will end his life by executing him.”

The Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit has vacated the death penalty against Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, ordering a new penalty phase trial. The Court also reversed the underlying convictions on several relatively-minor gun possession counts.

It’s a long Opinion (pdf.). The introduction, fortunately, summarizes the ruling:

… Indicted on various charges arising from these ghastly events, Dzhokhar stood trial about two years later in a courthouse just miles from where the bombs went off. Through his lawyers, he conceded that he did everything the government alleged. But he insisted that Tamerlan was the radicalizing catalyst, essentially intimidating him into acting as he had. See 18 U.S.C. § 3592(a)(4) (providing that relative culpability is a mitigating factor relevant to the imposition of a death penalty). Apparently unconvinced, a jury convicted him of all charges and recommended a death sentence on several of the death-eligible counts — a sentence that the district judge imposed (among other sentences).

A core promise of our criminal-justice system is that even the very worst among us deserves to be fairly tried and lawfully punished — a point forcefully made by the then-U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts during a presser at the trial’s end.2 To help make that promise a reality, decisions long on our books say that a judge handling a case involving prejudicial pretrial publicity must elicit “the kind and degree” of each prospective juror’s “exposure to the case or the parties,” if asked by counsel, see Patriarca v. United States, 402 F.2d 314, 318 (1st Cir. 1968) — only then can the judge reliably assess whether a potential juror can ignore that publicity, as the law requires, see United States v. Vest, 842 F.2d 1319, 1332 (1st Cir. 1988).3 But despite a diligent effort, the judge here did not meet the standard set by Patriarca and its successors.

Another error forces us to act as well, this one involving the judge’s denial of Dzhokhar’s post-trial motion for judgments of acquittal. Navigating a complex and changing area of the law, the judge let stand three of Dzhokhar’s convictions for carrying a firearm during crimes of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). The judge thought that each of the underlying offenses constituted a crime of violence. But with respect (and with the luxury of time that district judges rarely have), we believe the current state of the law propels us toward the opposite conclusion.

The first error requires us to vacate Dzhokhar’s death sentences and the second compels us to reverse the three § 924(c) convictions. On remand, then, the district court must enter judgments of acquittal on the relevant § 924(c) charges, empanel a new jury, and preside over a new trial strictly limited to what penalty Dzhokhar should get on the death-eligible counts.4 And just to be crystal clear: Because we are affirming the convictions (excluding the three § 924(c) convictions) and the many life sentences imposed on those remaining counts (which Dzhokhar has not challenged), Dzhokhar will remain confined to prison for the rest of his life, with the only question remaining being whether the government will end his life by executing him.

The Opinion, of course, brings back a lot of bad and emotional memories of the bombing, and the subsequent lockdown of Boston and suburbs as police hunted for the Tsarnaev brothers, who killed a policeman during their flight.

We covered the events live, Explosions at Boston Marathon finish line and #BostonMarathon Bombing Updates.

I revisited the events on the 3rd Anniversary of the bombing, with links to all ours posts, video, and images, Boston Marathon Bombing – Three Patriots Days Later:

Monday is Patriots Day in Massachusetts, the third Monday in April on which the Boston Marathon is run. The holiday commemorates the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775.

Three Patriots Days ago, on April 15, 2013, Islamic terrorists bombed the Boston Marathon.

I don’t remember where I was when I first heard of it. But I do remember covering it.

Here is a look back.

It’s worth remembering also that the media immediately tried to blame the bombing on “right wing” groups, Add Boston Marathon Bombing to pile of Failed Eliminationist Narratives.


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Hang the F-ker!

    Dejectedhead in reply to gonzotx. | July 31, 2020 at 11:29 pm

    Smash him with a block!

    UserP in reply to gonzotx. | August 2, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    The death penalty is reserved for cases where a death is willful and premeditated. The two brothers planned together. They researched how to make bombs with pressure cookers. They bought the parts and assembled them. Then they tried one and tested it to make sure it worked. And finally they placed them during the Boston marathon where they knew there would be the greatest amount of casualties. If that is not worthy of the death penalty, then the devil is a nice guy.

    jmccandles in reply to gonzotx. | August 3, 2020 at 9:55 am

    Either that or fry the goat fornicator.

If it feels like the judges are not on our side, it’s because they are not.

If the trial is fair enough to keep him in prison, it’s fair enough to hang him.

It’s absurd that widespread knowledge of criminal activity is sufficient to prohibit the enforcement of justice.

    JPL17 in reply to stablesort. | July 31, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    Indeed. It creates the most perverse incentive, because the takeaway for criminals is, “The more extreme my crime, the less likely my experiencing the death penalty”.

Do you think the Judges would understand how we felt,
if we all started sending FEDEX packages to their homes?

He’ll be in prison “for the rest of his life” or until some “compassionate” Democrat decides to let him go.

    Chieftain in reply to Toad-O. | July 31, 2020 at 6:20 pm

    Yu meaan like Bill Clintons last day of office terrorist commutations?
    The Democrat Party is a crime gang; favors for sale SOP.

      Squires in reply to Chieftain. | July 31, 2020 at 10:43 pm

      The Democrat party certainly doesn’t seem to regret Susan Rosenberg having been cut loose, though they do not advertise her role in the BLM operation.

    stevewhitemd in reply to Toad-O. | July 31, 2020 at 7:02 pm

    Well, prison is dangerous, you could catch Wuhan flu there. Better to let him out…

    The police tried pretty hard to ensure he did not have to go to trial. That boat they pulled him out of was punched full of holes, but they just stopped firing too soon, and pulled him out before he bled out, two failures in police procedure that cost many millions of dollars worth of trial and imprisonment expenses.

What do you expect from an appellate court that sits in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts?
The unwashed got their pound of flesh with the death sentence being given….they should be happy with that.
I think that we should get a couple of pressure cookers,create an IED or two, and put this jihadist in a room with them and their timers set–we can wrap in bacon any identifiable parts of him for immediate burial.
Instead of 72 virgins he should be given 72 nights with Helen Thomas.

Very mixed feelings, even if I’m a death penalty advocate–especially in a case like this, in which the evidence for guilt was overwhelming. On the one hand, it seemed that the feds stepped in with the anti-terrorism law (and potential for a death sentence) largely for political and symbolic reasons to show fortitude in the face of terror; especially since Mass. is a non-eath penalty state. But, does this not send a message that if Joe blow or Jane Doe is murdered in the course of a burglary of the home or random act of street violence, they are somehow not worthy of having their murderers put to death? Now, it seems the longsuffering taxpayers will support this lowlife for the rest of his natural life.

His chances of getting out are a lot better than you might think. Mumia is still working on it.

Guy kills a 8 yr old kid, a cop and others, injures hundreds and these idiots in black robes split legal hairs to spare him. Why even have juries if the judges can negate their verdicts? No wonder why our court system is compared to a crap shoot. Now unless he is resentenced to death penalty we taxpayers get to house and feed this killer for 50 years.

The single biggest reason I support the death penalty is because I simply don’t believe for a goddamn second that ‘life without parole’ ACTUALLY MEANS ‘life without parole.’

Way too many bleeding heart judges and Democrats find reasons to release these scumbags.

Does Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have enough street cred with the Red Guard to get them to blame “white supremacists” for the bombing and demand his release? I recall when the bombing happened the Joseph Goebbels media assumed it was committed by the “Radical Right” and pushed that lie for days.

I hope that if this prick gets one day of freedom, some family member of the deceased is there to meet him…

Next thing you know he will be running for the Senate to replace Markey. That could be an improvement.

If only to be a Kennedy cousin.

I visited the locations on the Marathon route one month after the pressure cookers detonated. In one location, you could still see the shrapnel firmly embedded in the building facade fifteen feet above the wide sidewalk and knew that there were many people between the pressure cookers and the building facades.

Justice Potter Stewart said of obscenity “I know it when I see it”. Yes.

stevewhitemd | July 31, 2020 at 7:03 pm

Should he get out, college girls from around the country will be fawning over him.

Ditto a fourth of the college guys.

And all the ‘questioning non-binary’ ones…

Iain Sanders | July 31, 2020 at 7:12 pm

TLM. Terrorist Lives Matter. & It does him no harm to look like Bob Dylan. Protest song, Bob???

When a new jury sentences this worthless oxygen thief to death once again I guarantee the First Circuit Court of Appeals in the People’s Democratik Republik of Massachusetts will vacate it again.

He might get Covid-19 so you better let him out until the Pandemic is over right?

Another large problem with this is that US Taxpayers are paying for the appeals, besides this cretin’s existence.

broomhandle | July 31, 2020 at 8:26 pm

I wonder what a BLM leader would say if asked about this fine young man who killed a cop. Do they see him as a hero?

Katy L. Stamper | July 31, 2020 at 8:38 pm

Jefferson lamented in the 1810s that judges already considered the possibility of impeachment a “scarecrow.” These judges should be impeached and removed from office.

Law-itis is an illness and our tolerance of it isn’t fitting.

I am a lawyer, but everything has limits, and law is no exception.

He admitted he did these things. And there is at least one charge that qualifies for the death penalty. What interest of Justice is served to prolong this execution?

So redo the penalty phase
Then give him death-by Bunga-Bunga! 🙂

When Pope Francis declared the death penalty was no longer “necessary” that was it for me. I’m no longer Catholic. I consider myself a non-denominational Christian. This isn’t the Catechism I grew up with. My parish priest captured 11 NORKs at the point of his 45.

For centuries the Catholic church taught that in some situations violence was justified. Why do you think the Pope has a Swiss guard?*

The justification for violence is, when Jesus was asked about the the greatest commandment.

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The second commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself, presumes you love yourself. And if you love yourself, you necessarily love your life. And if you love your own life, and you love your neighbor as you love yourself, you love their life just as much as your own.

So you defend their lives.

likewise society has the right to defend itself. I can provide countless examples of killers who have killed again in prison.

Here’s how f**ked up we are. On the one hand we send murderers to prison for life where they’re put in general population. Now they have nothing left to lose. So their cellie pisses them off and the convicted murderer kills him, some guy who was serving five years for grand theft. Not an admirable character (to be extremely charitable) but still. WE with our misguided laws turned a five year stretch in the gray bar motel into a death sentence.

Then there’s the fact that lifers with nothing to lose will try to kill prison guards. Aren’t their lives worth preserving?

*Is this Pope stupid or what? The Vatican has an armory, Swiss Guard, a well armed gendarmerie, and I won’t go into everything that’s in it but it only lacks for anti-aircraft weaponry, anti-shipping weaponry, and heavy artillery. The Vatican regularly buys weapons from SIG Sauer, H&K, and lord knows where else. I’m not going to look up where the Pope sources his ammo.

ISIL has made it plain they intend to behead the pope. If I were the head of one of the arms companies I’d cut the pope off and tell ISIL to just do you.

Related question:

Was there ever any follow up on the Jewish former friend of the elder brother, found carved up in his own apartment with no sign of forced entry?

buckeyeminuteman | August 1, 2020 at 2:49 am

A life sentence consists of the taxpayers paying for someone to turn food into poop. Their life is worth nothing more than the poop they make and yet we pay for all that food for decades.

Copperjockey | August 1, 2020 at 6:25 am

This is why there should be a guillotine at every courthouse. As soon as the verdict is read heads should roll. People will say but we need the appeals process in case someone was wrongly convicted. Trust me, if heads rolled crime would be very low. Especially death sentence crime. So without the killers killing there would be no innocent people convicted. Our only regret should be that we can only kill them one time!

Does this mean he will be put in the general population in prison?

That would probably solve everything.

“It’s worth remembering also that the media immediately tried to blame the bombing on “right wing” groups…”

It’s not just the media but AG Loretta Lynch who declared that the bombing was not an act of Islamic terrorism within 24 hours. She later recanted but such premature declarations have been a hallmark of the post-911 FBI and DOJ.

Leave his cell door open some night and a few others… Problem solved.

A small thing, but it’s odd to me that he’s called by his first name throughout that opinion. As if he’s a child. I know that the brother is also mentioned, but can’t they use “D. Tsarnaev”?

He admitted his crimes, as did General Flynn (except the Obama Administration didn’t set him up and prosecutors didn’t lie about his sentencing.

In this upside down time, the Hacks In Black give him a new sentencing hearing while the Hack in Black (redundant) acts as prosecutor.

We’ll see about the Hacks in Black reaction to the prejudiced Stone juror and Hack in Black presiding over the farce.

it seems as if vacating the sentence is actually an attempt to show ” mercy ” for whatever reason

were any of this bastard’s victims extended any mercy? are they not still dead or injured? were they not ” innocent? ”

this was an attack against the public not just a particular individual, made with the attempt to injure/kill as many as possible

if an attack such as this is not deserving of the ultimate penalty then what the hell is?

what a disgusting betrayal of the justice system and the concerns of the victims/general public

Frank Hammond | August 2, 2020 at 2:22 pm

Big win for Seth Moulton, Far Left Lunatic Congressman from Salem. Moulton’s hatred for the Police borderers on insanity. Moulton and his fellow Dems who continually rip the Police embolden mass murders like the Tsarnaev’s.

Does the judge face any type of repercussions for making the original ruling> Any type of fine or disciplinary action. In the private world you could get fired or demoted for this type of judgement.

two obama judges and a reagan appointee ?