MSNBC Coverage Of Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Receiving Death Penalty


A jury has decided to sentence Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to the death penalty by lethal injection for his role in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Three people were killed and 260 were injured when Tsarnaev and his brother placed bombs at the finishing line of the Boston Marathon in 2013, writes BBC News.

Tsarnaev is likely to be moved to a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, but there may be years worth of appeals of the verdict.

Misleading NYT Headline

Yesterday, the New York Times ran a story with the title Penalty Phase Opens With Image of Boston Marathon Bomber Making Obscene Gesture.

The title gives the impression that suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev walked into the courtroom at the sentencing phase of his trial and flashed the jury the middle finger.

After further reading, though, it becomes clear that this did not happen.

The jury was shown a video of suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev from July 2013, three months after the bombing, when he was being arraigned.  Mr. Tsarnaev was alone in a holding cell in the video, wearing prison orange, when he walked up to a surveillance camera and angrily showed his middle finger.

The video image was the government’s opening move in the sentencing phase of Mr. Tsarnaev’s trial, which began Tuesday.

The previous phase of the trial was to establish guilt.  Mr. Tsarnaev is now in the sentencing phase of the trial, and may get the death penalty.

Tsarnaev Defense: ‘He Did It’

sketch of the defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev  and attorney Judy Clarke

“He did it.”

Judy Clarke is the lawyer representing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – the survivor, and younger of two brothers accused of perpetrating the bomb attacks on the Boston Marathon in 2013.  She is not an ordinary defense attorney, claims The Guardian.

It was not a standard opening statement for a defense attorney to give regarding her client.  However, this is not a run-of-the-mill criminal trial, either; it is a huge federal trial, carrying a possible death sentence – the most high-profile trial of a terrorist on US soil since the Oklahoma City bomber, states The Guardian.

Clarke has specialized in saving the lives of clients like Tsarnaev for her whole career.  And she is, friends and colleagues told the Guardian, phenomenally good at it.

She has become an expert in the delicate tactics needed to take someone who is seen in the eyes of the world as a monster, and humanize them – just enough to convince a jury to save their life.

The list of clients she has helped escape the death penalty in this way is a who’s who of American killers. There’s Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber; Eric Rudolph, the Olympic Park bomber.  There was also Buford Furrow, the Aryan Nations member who opened fire on the Los Angeles Jewish Community Center in 1999, and, more recently, Jared Loughner, the shooter who killed six people and injured 15 more, including representative Gabrielle Giffords, in Tucson in 2011.

Nora Demleitner is the dean of the Washington and Lee University school of law, where Clarke also teaches. She told the Guardian that Clarke’s feelings about the death penalty are what drive and animate her.

There are two main parts to the trial:  the phase of proving guilt or innocence, and the sentencing phase.

Demleitner said that Clarke’s actions could cut down the time spent fighting in the guilt phase, and speed the arrival of the sentencing phase.  Because the rules for evidence are different from the guilt phase, Clarke will be much freer to present evidence showing Tsarnaev as under the control of his elder brother Tamerlan, states The Guardian.

More here

Updated post

Boston Marathon Bombing Trial Begins


Yesterday, the Boston Marathon bombing trial began.

The trial could last until June, according to Jose Diaz-Balart.

The Boston Globe’s Mike Bellow joins Balart at MSNBC to discuss the federal murder trial of bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Search Continues For Unbiased Jury In Tsarnaev Trial

How selecting a jury really works

The courts are in the process of choosing the jury for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Tsarnaev is an accused terrorist.  Authorities say he and his brother set off two pressure cooker bombs at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon.

The courts need to walk a fine line when selecting a jury, because this case may involve the death penalty.

Massachusetts abolished the death penalty more than 30 years ago and last carried out a death sentence in 1947, according to CNN.  Some claim that Boston has a brutal, eye-for-an-eye past and the jury may choose execution.

This case is not a state case, but rather a federal case and the death penalty is still allowed.

There’s ambivalence about capital punishment in Boston’s DNA, and that makes picking a jury to decide Tsarnaev’s fate all the more challenging.

So the state might not have the death penalty, but the feds do.  His crimes, if he is convicted, include the murder of an 8-year-old boy – raising the bar for heinousness and cruelty.

The people with the strongest opinions – those on the extreme ends of the juror questionnaire rating scale – are the least likely to make the jury.

A 2013 poll by the Boston Globe showed that just a third of Boston’s residents favor the death penalty for Tsarnaev; two-thirds would choose life in prison as his sentence.

It’s a story that has been underscored, one by one, by those called to serve on Tsarnaev’s jury. They sit at the end of a long wooden conference table, surrounded by lawyers and a jury consultant as they answer questions posed by U.S. District Court Judge George O’Toole. When he is finished, he passes the prospect off to the lawyers. CNN claims that with many potential jurors, their body language says “deer in the headlights.”

Many have difficulty with the question.

It has taken 19 days of juror interviews to reach this point: The court announced Friday that it expects to empanel a jury early next week. The trial itself, with opening statements and the first witnesses, is expected to begin the week of March 2.

Massachusetts as a state hasn’t executed anyone since 1947 and wiped the death penalty off its books in 1984. But its past is far more varied. It was one of the first colonies to carry out the death penalty, hanging murderer John Billington in Plymouth in 1630. In all, Massachusetts has executed 345 people. Until 1951, first-degree murder carried a mandatory death sentence, and some Tsarnaev jury prospects who still think that is the case.

Indeed, the executions in Massachusetts seem to reflect the worst fears of their times. Mary Dyer was one the so-called “Boston martyrs” hanged in 1660 under a law that banned Quakers from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Then came the pirates and witches: 19 women were hanged in 1692 alone in the infamous Salem witch trials. Two Italian-born anarchists, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, were executed in the electric chair in 1927 amid a huge public outcry spurred by writers, academics and celebrities of the time; many people believed them innocent.

Boston Bombing Jury To Exclude People Opposed To Death Penalty

Jury selection is underway for the accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who faces 30 charges including use of a weapon of mass destruction and bombing of a public place.

As explained by MSNBC’s Ron Mott, the federal court is looking for jurors who are not opposed to the death penalty.

The state of Massachusetts does not have the death penalty. However, because it is a federal case and not a state case, the defender could still end up with the death penalty.