Attorney General Eric Holder directed federal prosecutors on Thursday to seek the death penalty against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for last April’s Boston bombing.
“After consideration of the relevant facts, the applicable regulations and the submissions made by the defendant’s counsel, I have determined that the United States will seek the death penalty in this matter. The nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm compel this decision,” Holder said in a statement.
Seventeen of 30 charges Tsarnaev faces carry the possibility of the death penalty, including using a weapon of mass destruction to kill people.
Tsarnaev, 20, has pleaded not guilty to the charges. No trial date has been set.
Prosecutors say that Dzhokhar and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, lived in the Boston area for about 10 years and were originally from Russia. Tamerlan died in a shoot-out with police after the bombing as law enforcement searched the city for them.
The two brothers planted bombs made using pressure cookers near the marathon’s finish line on April 15, 2013.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said after the attack last year that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be sentenced to death.
In a Washington Post/ABC News poll last May, 70 percent of people surveyed said he should face the death penalty.
In recent death penalty cases brought by the Justice Department, only one defendant was sentenced to death while six others received life sentences, the Associated Press reports.
Holder has previously said he is personally opposed to the death penalty.