Biden administration calls for death sentence on Boston Marathon bomber

BOSTON (Reuters) – The US Department of Justice has urged the Supreme Court to restore the death penalty to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, convicted of the deadly Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, despite President Joe Biden’s declared opposition to capital punishment.

FILE PHOTO: Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is pictured in this file photo presented as evidence by the US Attorney’s Office in Boston, Massachusetts, March 23, 2015. US Attorney’s Office in Boston / Document via Reuters / Files

The department, in a 48-page brief filed Monday evening, argued that a lower court wrongly overturned Tsarnaev’s death sentence and ordered a new trial to determine the sentence he deserved for committing with his brother. elder attack which killed three people and injured over 260 others.

The filing marked the latest gap between the political views of Biden, a Democrat who has said he wants to eliminate the death penalty at the federal level, and the Justice Department, whose independence he has pledged to promote.

“The jury carefully considered each of the respondent’s crimes and determined that the death penalty was justified for the horrors he personally inflicted,” Acting General Counsel Elizabeth Prelogar said in the Department of Justice brief. Justice.

White House spokesman Andrew Bates said the Justice Department “had independence over such decisions,” but added that Biden believed the federal government should not carry out executions.

“President Biden has made it clear that he is deeply concerned about the consistency of the death penalty with the core values ​​of our sense of justice and fairness,” Bates added.

In overturning Tsarnaev’s death sentence, the Boston-based 1st US Court of Appeals ruled in July 2020 that the trial judge “failed” in the selection of jurors for potential bias as a result. the ubiquitous media coverage of the bombing. He ordered a new trial on the sentence he should receive for the crimes carrying the death penalty for which he was convicted.

Tsarnaev is an American citizen born in Kyrgyzstan.

David Patton, Tsarnaev’s lawyer, argued that the US government should allow his client to serve life in prison. Patton did not respond to a request for comment.

Former Republican President Donald Trump’s Justice Department launched the government’s appeal against the 1st Circuit decision, and the Supreme Court agreed in March to take up the case. He will hear arguments and render a decision during his next term, which begins in October and ends in June 2022.

Tsarnaev, now 27, and his brother, Tamerlan, precipitated five days of panic in Boston when they detonated two homemade pressure cooker bombs at the marathon finish line on April 15, 2013 – tearing the compact crowd apart and causing many people to lose legs – then tried to flee the city.

In the following days, they also killed a policeman, Sean Collier. Tsarnaev’s brother died after a shootout with the police.

In 2015, jurors found Tsarnaev guilty of all 30 counts he faced and later determined he deserved to be executed for a bomb he planted that killed 8-year-old Martin Richard. and Lingzi Lu, 23, Chinese exchange student. Restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, 29, was also killed.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham


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