Boston Marathon bomber death sentence overturned by appeals court

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A U.S. federal appeals court on Friday dismissed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s death sentence in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, saying the judge who oversaw the case had failed to properly screen jurors for d ‘possible prejudices.A panel of three judges from the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new criminal trial on whether Tsarnaev, 27, should be executed for the attack that killed three people and injured some over 260 others.

“But make no mistake: Dzhokhar will spend his remaining days locked in prison, the only question remaining is whether he will die by execution,” Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson wrote in the ruling, more than six months after the arguments were heard in the case.

An email requesting comment was sent to a lawyer for Tsarnaev. A spokesperson for the US attorney’s office in Boston said he was reviewing the notice and had no immediate comment.

Prosecutors could ask the full court of appeals to hear the case or go directly to the United States Supreme Court.

From left: Boston Marathon bombing victims, Martin Richard, 8; Krystle Campbell, 29; and Lingzi Lu, a graduate student from Boston University in China. (The Associated Press)

The mother of Krystle Campbell, the 29-year-old killed in the attack, has expressed outrage at the court ruling.

“I just don’t understand,” Patricia Campbell told the Boston Globe. “It’s just terrible that he’s allowed to live his life. It is unfair. He didn’t wake up one morning and decided to do what he did. He planned it. He did a vicious and ugly thing.

Former Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officer Dic Donohue, who was seriously injured in a shootout with the brothers, said the decision came as no surprise to him.

“And anyway, he won’t come out and hasn’t been able to harm anyone since he was captured,” he tweeted.

Boston Hosting Trial Issue

Tsarnaev’s lawyers admitted at the start of his trial that he and his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev set off the two bombs at the marathon finish line. But they argued that Dzhokar Tsarnaev is less guilty than his brother, who they say was the mastermind behind the attack.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a shootout with police days after the April 15, 2013 bombing. Dzhokar Tsarnaev is now behind bars at a high-security supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.

Tsarnaev was found guilty on 30 counts, including conspiracy and use of a weapon of mass destruction.

WATCH | What drove the Tsarnaev brothers to violence ?:

CBC’s Paul Hunter takes a closer look at the two brothers who bombed the 18:38 Boston Marathon

Prosecutors told jurors the men carried out the attack to punish the United States for its wars in Muslim countries.

In the boat where Tsarnaev was found in hiding, he had scrawled a confession that referred to wars and said, among other things, “Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop”.

Tsarnaev’s attorneys identified a series of problems with his trial, but said in a brief to the court that the “first fundamental error” was the judge’s refusal to move the case out of Boston.

They also pointed to social media posts from two jurors suggesting they had strong opinions even before the 2015 trial began.

A juror had said in Twitter posts that she was “locked up” with her family during the manhunt and retweeted another post calling Tsarnaev “trash,” but later told court she had not commented on the matter or had been asked to do so. shelter in place, the defense said.

On the day of Tsarnaev’s conviction, lawyers said the juror changed her Facebook profile picture to one that read “BOSTON STRONG”, a rallying cry used in the aftermath of the bombing.

Runners approach the finish line wearing a Boston Strong banner during the 120th Boston Marathon race in April 2016 (Gretchen Ertl / Action Pictures / Reuters)

Tsarnaev’s lawyers have repeatedly pushed to move the trial out of the city where the bombs went off, arguing that media scrutiny and the number of people affected by the Boston attack would taint the jury. But U.S. District Judge George O’Toole declined, saying he believed a fair and impartial jury could be found in the city.

The 1st Circuit said the “ubiquitous” media coverage, which included “frightening stills and videos” of the bombing and the one-day manhunt, forced the judge to initiate a process. jury selection “sufficient to identify bias”. But O’Toole failed, the judges found.

The judges said O’Toole considered jurors who had previously formed the opinion that Tsarnaev was qualified guilty “because they answered ‘yes’ to whether they could decide this high-profile case on the basis of evidence. Still, he didn’t delve deep enough into what jurors had read or heard about the case, he said.

A pedestrian walks past a memorial to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings in Boston in January 2015 (Brian Snyder / Reuters)

The three judges agreed that the death penalty should be rejected. In a concurring opinion, Judge Juan Torruella wrote that the case should never have been tried in Boston.

“If this case did not present a sufficient basis for a change of venue, there is no set of circumstances that will meet this standard, at least not in the First Circuit,” he wrote.

U.S. President Donald Trump weighed in on the decision during a speech to supporters on the tarmac at Tampa International Airport.

“I see Boston, where you have the animal that killed so many people during the Boston Marathon,” Trump said. “They just sent this death sentence back to the lower courts for a long debate. It’s ridiculous. “

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