US Supreme Court revives Boston Marathon bomber’s death sentence
The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday reinstated convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s death sentence for his role in the 2013 attack that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others, ruling in favor of the federal government.
In a 6-3 decision, the justices sided with the Justice Department’s challenge to a 2020 lower court ruling that had upheld Tsarnaev’s conviction but overturned his death sentence on the basis that it violated his right to a fair trial under the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment.
“Dzhokhar Tsarnaev committed heinous crimes. The Sixth Amendment nonetheless guaranteed him a fair trial before an impartial jury. He received one,” conservative Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court.
The court’s six conservative justices were in the majority, with its three liberals dissenting.
President Joe Biden as a candidate promised to work to pass legislation in Congress to eliminate the death penalty at the federal level and set incentives for states to do as well, instead endorsing life sentences without probation or parole.
But his administration last year opted to proceed with an appeal initially launched by the Justice Department under his predecessor Donald Trump to defend Tsarnaev’s death sentence.
Lawyers for Tsarnaev, who is 28 now and was 19 at the time of the attack, have argued that Tsarnaev played a secondary role in the marathon bombing to his brother Tamerlan, who they called “an authority figure” with “violent Islamic extremist beliefs.”
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Additional reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Will Dunham)