Supreme Court Reinstates Death Penalty for Boston Marathon Bomber

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday reinstated the death penalty sentence for Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. 

The 6-3 ruling overturns a federal appeals court decision to void the sentence. 

That 2020 ruling by the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturned Tsarnaev’s federal death penalty and instead sentenced the Kyrgyzstan-born terrorist to life without parole.  

The appeals court said the trial judge improperly excluded evidence that showed Dzhokhar was heavily influenced by his older brother, Tamerlan. 

On April 15, 2013, the brothers placed two homemade “pressure cooker” bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon that exploded as runners of the 42-kilometer (26-mile) race arrived. 

The attack killed three spectators and injured more than 260 others. 

A massive manhunt ensued. Three days later, the brothers shot and killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer. On April 19, Tamerlan died after the gun battle with police. Dzhokhar, who had been shot, escaped. He surrendered to police later that evening after they found him hiding in a boat stored on a trailer. 

The lower court also found that his trial could have been tainted by jurors who had already made up their minds because of the publicity surrounding the high-profile case that kept Americans glued to their televisions for days. 

“Dzhokhar Tsarnaev committed heinous crimes. The Sixth Amendment nonetheless guaranteed him a fair trial before an impartial jury. He received one,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority. 

In his dissent, retiring Justice Stephen Breyer wrote, “In my view, the Court of Appeals acted lawfully in holding that the District Court should have allowed Dzhokhar to introduce this evidence.”

 

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