A US court of appeal has overturned the death sentence handed down for the terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon. More than six months after hearings on the case, the three judges published their decision in the case of Dschochar Zarnajew. Three people were killed and more than 260 injured in the attack on 15 April 2013. Explosives had been detonated at the finish line.
The judges ordered that a new decision on the sentence had to be made. The court made it clear that Tsarnaev nevertheless expects at least life imprisonment: “Djochar will spend his remaining days in prison. The only question is whether he will die by execution.”
The reason for the decision is the opinion of the lawyers that the court did not ensure during the trial that the jury was actually impartial towards Tsarnaev. “The district court was unable to identify bias or bias by refusing to ask potential jurors content-specific questions about what they had read and heard.”[“Zarnaev’s lawyers had argued that intense media coverage had made it impossible to conduct a fair trial in Boston. They also referred to statements made by two jurors in social media. These had suggested that the jury had already had a clear opinion on the case before the trial began in 2015.”]
At a hearing on the subject last December, the judges of the 1st Federal Court of Appeals in Boston had asked many questions about possible jury bias. For example, they asked why the two had not been dismissed, or why the presiding judge of the trial had not at least asked after the postings had been made public. The judges also referred to a long-standing rule of the Boston court that requires such an inquiry.
Zarnaev\’s lawyers argued that one of the two jurors posted two dozen comments on Twitter after the attack. In a tweet following Tsarnaev\’s arrest, he described the suspect as a “piece of trash”. The juror also became the spokesman for the jury.
Tsarnaev was found guilty and sentenced on 30 counts in 2015. The execution was to be by lethal injection. Two days after the marathon attack, his brother Tamerlan was shot dead in a firefight with police officers.
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