Court Battles

Justice Department to seek death penalty for Boston bomber: report


The Justice Department will seek to reinstate the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted in the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, Attorney General William Barr said Thursday.

The attorney general told The Associated Press in an interview that the Justice Department will appeal an appeals court ruling from last month that overturned the death sentence for Tsarnaev.

Barr said the department would take the argument for the death penalty to the Supreme Court for the man convicted in the attack that killed three people and injured more than 260 others. 

“We will do whatever’s necessary,” Barr said, according to the AP. “We will take it up to the Supreme Court and we will continue to pursue the death penalty.”

Barr’s comments come after an appeals court ruled the U.S. district court did not adequately vet jurors for bias in what they had read or seen about the case. The court had convicted Tsarnaev of all 30 charges, and the appeals court upheld most of the convictions. 

Tsarnaev’s legal team acknowledged he and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, initiated the bombings but argued that their client was radicalized by his brother. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after being run over by his brother while he was trying to escape and a gun fight with police. 

But prosecutors have argued that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev also wanted revenge on the U.S. for its wars in predominantly Muslim countries and wrote in the boat he was caught in to “stop killing our innocent people and we will stop.”

An attorney for Tsarnaev, David Patton, declined to comment on the matter when contacted by The Hill. 

After the decision by the appeals court, Patton said, “it is now up to the government to determine whether to put the victims and Boston through a second trial, or to allow closure to this terrible tragedy by permitting a sentence of life without the possibility of release,” according to the AP.

President Trump tweeted that the government “must again seek the Death Penalty in a do-over of that chapter of the original trial” after the appeals court threw out the death penalty last month. 

The Justice Department resumed federal executions in recent weeks after a 17-year suspension, leading three men to be executed last month. Three others have executions scheduled next week or in September.

Tags Boston Boston Marathon Boston Marathon bombing Capital punishment death penalty death sentence Donald Trump Justice Department Massachusetts William Barr

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