A U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the death sentence of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Friday.
Tsarnaev petitioned the First U.S. Court of Appeals in December 2019 to overturn his death sentence, arguing that his trial never should have taken place in Boston. Tsarnaev pleaded guilty to setting a bomb that killed three and injured hundreds of others at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.
“Tsarnaev’s death sentences on counts 4, 5, 9, 10, and 14 are vacated, and the matter is remanded to the district court with directions to hold a new penalty-phase trial consistent with the opinion issued this day,” the Friday ruling said, according to Boston’s WHDH.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers filed a petition on Dec. 12 requesting a new sentencing trial claiming that the jury in Tsarnaev’s case was biased against him and violated his Constitutional right to a fair trial.
“This case should not have been tried in Boston. Tsarnaev admitted heinous crimes, but even so — perhaps especially so — this trial demanded scrupulous adherence to the requirements of the Constitution and federal law. Again and again this trial fell short,” Tsarnaev’s attorneys argued. “Fresh proceedings — in an unaffected community, before honest and unbiased jurors, who know that the bombings were [Dzhokar’s] first violent crimes but not Tamerlan’s — present a real prospect of a different outcome. This verdict is unworthy of confidence and this Court should reverse.”
The defense pointed out two jurors specifically as unfairly biased against him. One juror had failed to disclose tweets she had made praising police and critical of Tsarnaev in the wake of the bombing. Another juror answered friends’ questions about the jury selection process over Facebook.
The government prosecutors working the case argued against granting the request, asserting that “Tsarnaev received a fair trial in Boston, and the district court didn’t abuse its discretion by refusing to move the trial elsewhere.” The prosecutors also said that the one juror likely misunderstood a questionnaire when she did not reveal her tweets. The other juror’s conversations on Facebook were not prohibited, the government argued.
Tsarnaev carried out the bomb plot with the help of his brother Tamerlan, who died in a shootout with police after the brothers fled.
As The Daily Wire reported:
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan used two homemade pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the race, killing three people and injuring several hundred others. 16 people lost limbs as a result of the bombings. During the manhunt for the brothers, the brothers killed MIT policeman Sean A. Collier, kidnapped a man in his car, and had a shootout with the police in Watertown, where they shot and severely wounded two officers, one of whom, Boston Police Department officer Dennis Simmonds, was injured by a hand grenade and died in April 2014.
As The New York Times reported, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev said he and his brother were motivated by radical Islamic beliefs. He added that the brothers learned to build explosive devices from the online magazine of Al Qaeada and admitted they had plans to bomb Times Square.