Supreme Court appears likely to side with the Biden administration and restore the death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber

Federal Bureau of Investigation released this file photo on April 19, 2013. It shows Dzhokhar Trzanaev, who was convicted in the Boston Marathon bombing attack of April 15, 2013. FBI via AP File
The Supreme Court heard arguments about whether Dzhokhar-Tsarnaev should be reinstated to the death penalty.

Tsarnaev was sentenced to death by a lower court last year.

The Biden administration asked the Supreme Court for an injunction to overturn that decision.

The Supreme Court appears likely to support the Biden administration in restoring the death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Trzanowsky.

After President Donald Trump's Justice Department had halted federal executions for 17 years, the Justice Department urged the Supreme Court not to overturn a lower court's decision that overturned Tsarnaev’s death sentence.

Biden's administration asked the Supreme Court for the same. They wrote that Tsarnaev was the "most famous domestic terrorist in recent American History."

This is despite President Joe Biden’s campaign promise to end capital punishment, and pressure from some Democrats to abolish it.

Attorney General Merrick Garland also placed a moratorium against federal executions. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett raised this issue on Wednesday to question the reasoning behind the DOJ request.

Eric Feigin, deputy solicitor general at the Department of Justice, stated that the administration believes the jury pronounced a sound verdict. The court of appeals did not have the right to overturn that verdict.

He said, "What we are asking is that the sound judgement... that he deserves capital punishment for his personal actions in murdering or maiming scores innocents and together with his brother hundreds of innocents at Boston Marathon should be respected."

The court was divided ideologically, with the three liberals examining the government's position more than the six conservatives.

This case goes back to 2013, when Tamerlan and Tsarnaev carried out the notorious bombings that claimed three lives and injured hundreds more. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout that took place with police days later.

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Tsarnaev was convicted by a jury and sentenced to death two years later. The 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals vacated his death sentence in July 2020. It ruled that Tsarnaev's 2015 district judge had failed to adequately screen jurors' media coverage of the high-profile attack. This left room for bias and allowed him to be executed.

Appeal court also found that Tamerlan's prior crimes were not properly presented by the district judge, which could have affected the jury’s decision. Tamerlan is alleged to have been involved in three murders that took place two years prior to the Boston Marathon bombings.

Tsarnaev’s lawyer claimed that the Eighth Amendment was violated by the district judge. This could have led to a lighter sentence such as life imprisonment for Tsarnaev.

Ginger Anders, attorney for the Supreme Court, stated that "This powerful mitigating evidence showed that Dzhokhar had been indoctrinated at his brother's instigation."

Justice Elena Kagan, a democratically appointed judge, seemed to agree with that position. She stated that the district judge had refused to admit evidence of a grisly murderous crime.

Kagan asked the DOJ's lawyer if this was a classic case where the evidence is understood in one way and highly relevant to a jury decision.

Feigin responded, "This investigation had reached the end of its road." Feigin added that "there was no way for me to determine what happened" with regard to Tamerlan's alleged previous crime.

The GOP-appointed justices at the court seemed to agree with that conclusion. Justice Samuel Alito stated that evidence is inadmissible in regular trials many times. Justice Brett Kavanaugh stated that the district judge is "a gatekeeper" of evidence.

By the end of June, the justices will issue their decision in United States v. Tsarnaev. Given Biden's opposition to the death penalty, it is still uncertain whether Tsarnaev will be executed if the justices decide to reinstate his death sentence.

Tsarnaev (28 years old) is currently being held in Florence, Colorado federal prison.

Business Insider has the original article.


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