The Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday from the Biden administration calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty for convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Tsarnaev, 28, was convicted of all 30 charges against him in the 2013 bombing near the marathon’s finish line, killing three people and wounding more than 260 others by detonating two homemade pressure-cooker bombs. He was later sentenced to death in 2015.
But a federal appeals court tossed his death sentence in July 2020 and overturned three of his convictions — ruling that a trial judge didn’t adequately screen jurors for pre-trial bias.
The question before the high court now is whether Tsarnaev should be sentenced to life in prison or face capital punishment.
The court will consider whether the trial judge did enough to screen jurors about their exposure to the extensive news coverage of the bombing.
Tsarnaev’s attorneys believe evidence backs up their argument that his older brother, Tamerlan, 26, masterminded the sinister attack and dragged his relative into terrorist acts, making him less responsible.
The evidence implicated Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a triple killing in Waltham outside Boston on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“The evidence thus made it vastly more likely that Dzhokhar acted under Tamerlan’s radicalizing influence and that Tamerlan led the bombings,” Ginger Anders, Tsarnaev’s lead Supreme Court attorney, wrote in a court filing.
Days after the bombing on April 15, 2013, Tamerlan died during a police shootout and was run over by his brother as he fled. Hours later, Dzhokhar was captured while hiding in a boat in the Boston suburb of Watertown.
Former Attorney General Bill Barr has previously said the Trump administration would do “whatever’s necessary” to reinstate Tsarnaev’s death penalty, ultimately appealing the lower court ruling. The Supreme Court then agreed to review the case when the Biden administration didn’t indicate any change of view.
But President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has called for an end to the federal death penalty.
The Justice Department halted federal executions in July after the Trump administration carried out 13 executions in six months.
“The Department of Justice must ensure that everyone in the federal criminal justice system is not only afforded the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States, but is also treated fairly and humanely,” Garland said. “That obligation has special force in capital cases.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki had nothing to add when asked Tuesday how Biden’s position on the death penalty aligns with his administration’s push to execute Tsarnaev, Fox News reported.
“I don’t have anything more on this case,” Psaki told reporters.
With Post wires
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