Federal appeals court overturns death sentence of Boston Marathon jihad murderer

Federal appeals court overturns death sentence of Boston Marathon jihad murderer

This is more about the state of American society today than it is about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. There is no question that he is guilty. His victims have no chance to appeal the death penalty that he gave to them. But American society does not have the will anymore to take a strong stand against criminals of this kind, and that means there will be more of them.

“Federal appeals court tosses Tsarnaev death sentence, ordering new trial to decide bomber’s fate,” by David Abel, Travis Andersen, Tonya Alanez and Milton J. Valencia, Boston Globe, July 31, 2020:

Forcing open a painful chapter of Boston’s history, a federal appeals court on Friday overturned the death sentence of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted five years ago of collaborating with his brother to plant two bombs near the Boston Marathon’s finish line, and ordered a new trial to determine whether he should be put to death.

In a 182-page ruling that infuriated some victims, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that George A. O’Toole Jr., the judge in Tsarnaev’s 2015 trial, “did not meet the standard” of fairness while presiding over jury selection.

“A core promise of our criminal justice system is that even the very worst among us deserves to be fairly tried and lawfully punished,” wrote Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson, who also called the bombings “one of the worst domestic terrorist attacks since the 9/11 atrocities.”

The ruling does not impact Tsarnaev’s convictions in the 2013 bombings, which killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.

“Just to be crystal clear … 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,” Thompson wrote.

But the ruling, which drew divided reactions from legal experts, raised the specter of another painful and protracted ordeal for the families of the injured and the dead, some of whom had warned against precisely this outcome.

“I just don’t understand it,” said Patricia Campbell, whose daughter Krystle was killed in the bombings. “It’s just terrible that he’s allowed to live his life. It’s unfair. He didn’t wake up one morning and decide to do what he did. He planned it out. He did a vicious, ugly thing.”

In ordering that Tsarnaev’s sentence be considered anew, the court found that at least two of the 12 jurors did not fully disclose what they knew about the high-profile case, or discussed it on social media before they were chosen to decide Tsarnaev’s fate.

Tsarnaev’s trial attorneys showed during the final stages of the jury selection process that one of the jurors, the foreperson, hid that she had posted on Twitter about being “locked down” during the manhunt for Tsarnaev, and that she called him a “piece of garbage” after the attacks.

The court held that O’Toole erred when he refused to press the jurors on the social media posts, instead relying on their claims that they could serve impartially.

“A judge cannot delegate to potential jurors the work of judging their own impartiality,” Thompson wrote.

Tsarnaev has been held at the US Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in Colorado, the nation’s highest-security prison, a so-called Supermax known as the Alcatraz of the Rockies.

Campbell said she was not sure whether she would return to court to try to persuade another judge to reimpose the death penalty.

“I don’t even know if I’d waste my time going,” Campbell said. “The government’s just wasting money. He should be dead by now for what he did.”…

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