DEATH FOR BOSTON BOMBER TSARNAEV

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Florida's lethal injection gurney is shown in an undated handout photo taken in the redesigned death chamber which will accomodate either the electric chair or the gurney at Florida State Prison. (AP Photo/Fla. Dept. of Corrections)

A jury of 5 men and 7 women handed down the death penalty in the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (21) Boston Marathon bombing case. Seventeen of the 30 charges against him carried the possibility of a death sentence, the jury determined that six of these 17 deserved the ultimate punishment. The jury had previously convicted Tsarnaev of all 30 counts of the indictment in April. He was found guilty in the deaths of Lingzi Lu, Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard (8) during the bombings and police officer Sean Collier in a shootout afterwards. Besides these deaths, another 17 people lost at least one leg, and more than 240 others sustained some type of serious injury. The prosecution had portrayed him as a person who wanted to terrorize the whole country by killing innocent citizens. The defense attempted to convince the jury that Tsarnaev was remorseful and called dozens of family/friend witnesses, and then Sister Helen Prejean, a Roman Catholic nun, to support this contention. Prejean, a known opponent of the death penalty in general, testified that he did express genuine remorse when she met with him on 5 occasions. She said he told her, “No one deserves to suffer like they did”.  The defense also tried to sway the jury with the notion that the defendant’s older brother mentally manipulated him into participating in these agregious acts. The method used in the execution would likely  be lethal injection, however, only a handful of executions have been carried out for the 74 or so that have been sentenced to death in the federal system since the penalty was again deemed constitutional in 1988.

During the jury selection process, potential jurors were screened to determine whether they were opposed to the death penalty. If they were, they were excused. The process was especially interesting since the vast majority of the state’s residents are opposed to the death penalty. Capital punishment has not been legal in the state since 1982, and nobody has been executed since 1947. However, this was a federal case and federal law allows for executions.

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