U.S. Appeals Court Overturns Boston Marathon Bomber's Death Sentence

Court overturns Boston Marathon bomber's death sentence

Tsarnaev was convicted and sentenced to death in 2015 for carrying out the April 15, 2013 attack at the marathon finish line with his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died in a shootout with police after a manhunt.

Tsarnaev's lawyers say one of the jurors, who would go one to become the jury's foreperson, or chief spokesperson, published two dozen tweets in the wake of the bombings.

US Circuit Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson, writing for the court, said the trial judge "fell short" in conducting the jury selection process and ensuring it could filter through jurors exposed to pretrial publicity surrounding the case.

The mother of Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old who lost her life in the attack, expressed outrage with the court's decision, saying she does not "understand it". The appeals judges, in a hearing on the case in early December, devoted a significant number of questions to the juror bias argument.

Tsarnaev's lawyers had been trying to overturn his death sentence, arguing that it was impossible to find a fair jury in Boston because the explosions traumatized the region. Mr. Tsarnaev's brother died later that night after a gunfight with police, which ended when Mr. Dzhokhar ran him over with a stolen vehicle. Tsarnaev was convicted on 30 charges, which include conspiracy and the use of a weapon of mass destruction. One of the posts had called Dzhokhar a "piece of garbage".

Mr. Tsarnaev is being held at the USA "supermax" prison in Florence, Colo., a site so remote and well-secured that it is nicknamed the "Alcatraz of the Rockies".

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"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 decision reads.

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

Tsarnaev admitted at his sentencing that he was "guilty of this attack, along with my brother". In a concurring opinion, Judge Juan Torruella wrote that the case should never have been tried in Boston.

US President Donald Trump weighed in on the ruling during an address to supporters on the tarmac of Tampa International Airport. "They just sent this conviction for the death penalty back to the lower courts so they'll argue about that for a long time".

"I see in Boston, where you have the animal that killed so many people during the Boston Marathon", Trump said.

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