The Supreme Court on Friday reinstated the death penalty for convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
The 6-3 vote comes after a federal appeals court overturned the verdict in July 2020, ruling that a trial judge wrongly excluded evidence that may have shown Dzhokhar was influenced by his late older brother Tamerlane.
The First US Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston also cited possible juror bias over coverage of the pressure cooker bombing that killed three people and injured more than 260 others near the finish line of the race in 2013 Tsarnaev’s death sentence overturned almost two years ago.
“Dzhokhar Tsarnaev committed heinous crimes,” Judge Clarence Thomas said wrote for the majority, composed of the six conservative members of the court. “The Sixth Amendment nevertheless guaranteed him a fair trial before an impartial jury. He got one.”
Justice Stephen Breyer, who disagreed along with Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, said he believed the Court of Appeal “acted lawfully” while noting that “special judicial diligence” was required in death penalty cases.
“This court is now reversing the Court of Appeals,” Breyer wrote. “In my view, the Court of Appeal acted lawfully when it ruled that the Dzhokhar District Court should have allowed this evidence to be presented.”
Tsarnaev had argued during the sentencing phase of his trial that he should not be killed because Tamerlane “took the lead” in the bombing and included his brother in his plan.
“Dzhokhar argued that Tamerlane was an extremely violent man, that Tamerlane radicalized him, and that Dzhokhar participated in the bombings because of Tamerlane’s violent influence and leadership,” Breyer wrote.
To back up his claims, Dzhokhar, 28, tried to present evidence that Tamerlan had previously killed three people in an unrelated triple homicide in Waltham, Massachusetts, in 2011.
Breyer also urged his colleagues to reconsider the death penalty altogether.
“I have written elsewhere about the problems inherent in a system that allows for the use of the death penalty,” Breyer wrote in his dissent. “This case is just another example of some of those problems.”
Days after the bomb attack on April 15, 2013, 26-year-old Tamerlane died in a police shootout and was run over by his brother while trying to escape. Hours later, Dzhokhar was captured while hiding in a boat in the Boston suburb of Watertown.
Ginger Anders, the leading attorney of the Supreme Court of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, told judges in October The evidence supported the theory that “Dzhokhar radicalized over Tamerlane”. She claimed Tamerlane indoctrinated his younger brother.
But Thomas and five other judges ruled Friday that the trial judge’s decision to exclude evidence related to Waltam’s triple murder was reasonable.
“Dzokhar attempted to draw the jury’s attention to a triple murder allegedly committed by Tamerlane years earlier, although there was no allegation that Dzokhar had played a role in that crime,” Thomas wrote. “There was also no way to confirm or verify the relevant facts as all parties involved were dead.”
Both Tamerlane and a man who had implicated him, Ibragim Todashev, had died before Dzochar’s trial began.
Todashev, 27, told authorities after the bombing marathon Tamerlane recruited him to rob three men before the elder Tsarnaev slit their throats.
Todashev died in May 2013 when an FBI agent shot the Chechen in Orlando while he was being questioned by authorities about his friendship with Tamerlane.
It is unclear when Tsarnaev might be executed, as the Justice Ministry announced a moratorium on federal executions in July.
With mail wires
https://nypost.com/2022/03/04/death-penalty-reinstated-for-boston-marathon-bomber-dzhokhar-tsarnaev/ Death penalty reinstated for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev