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Supreme Court agrees to consider reinstating death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber terrorist

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Suspect 2 in the Boston Marathon bombing investigation. (FBI/Released)
March 22, 2021

The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear the Department of Justice’s case to reinstate the death penalty for 2013 Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The high court will hear arguments in the case some time in its next term, which begins in October.

The DOJ had requested in October 2020 that the high court reinstate the death penalty, three months after a panel of three U.S. judges overturned Tsarnaev’s death penalty sentence over concerns of juror bias.

Tsarnaev was found guilty on 30 charges and sentenced to death in 2015.

“Given the profound stakes … the First Circuit should not have the last word,” Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall and other lawyers told the U.S. Supreme Court in an October 2020 filing obtained by American Military News. Wall added that the Supreme Court should “put this landmark case back on track toward its just conclusion.”

The federal lawyers also described the case as “one of the most important terrorism prosecutions in our nation’s history.”

Former Attorney General Bill Barr had said in August, “We will take it up to the Supreme Court and we will continue to pursue the death penalty.”

Tsarnaev’s lawyers had argued that intense media coverage harmed Tsarnaev’s right to a fair trial and that two jury members had shared derogatory views of Tsarnaev prior to the trial. One of those biased jury members even ended up as the foreperson during Tsarnaev’s trial.

During his initial trial, Tsarnaev’s legal team also requested a change of venue, arguing the jury pool in the area had been particularly heavily biased by the news event.

The April 15, 2013 attack on the Boston Marathon entailed two pressure cooker bombs exploding, killing three people injuring 260 more. Tsarnaev’s brother Tamerlan was also involved in the bomb plot, but was killed in a gun battle with police days after the bombing attack.