Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No Plea Deal Likely in Boston Marathon Bombing Case; Prosecutors Are Expected to Seek Death Penalty in Boston Suspect's Trial

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No Plea Deal Likely in Boston Marathon Bombing Case; Prosecutors Are Expected to Seek Death Penalty in Boston Suspect's Trial

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON * The focus of the Boston Marathon bombing trial figures to be as much on what punishment Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could face as on his responsibility for the attack.

With testimony expected to start this month, the Justice Department has given no indication it is open to any proposal from the defense to spare Tsarnaev's life, pushing instead toward a trial that could result in a death sentence for the defendant, 21.

In a deadly terrorism case involving the deaths of three people, including a child, there may be little incentive for prosecutors who believe they have incontrovertible evidence to negotiate away their ability to seek the maximum penalty possible.

"There would be now, in my judgment, no reason for the government to reverse course and not let 12 citizens decide if the death penalty is appropriate," said Larry Mackey, a former Justice Department prosecutor involved in the case of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who was executed in 2001.

The prospect of a death sentence, a rare punishment in the federal system, raises the stakes of a trial that will revisit in gory detail the 2013 attack that injured more than 260. Should the jury find Tsarnaev guilty, it would then decide in a separate penalty phase whether he should be sentenced to death. Jury selection is underway and the judge has said he hopes to begin testimony on Jan. 26.

Only three federal inmates, including McVeigh, have been put to death since 2001. Recent botched executions at the state level have placed the practice under scrutiny, with President Barack Obama directing the Justice Department last year to investigate how the death penalty is applied across the nation.

Despite his own personal reservations about the death penalty, Attorney General Eric Holder says the government is committed to seeking that punishment for Tsarnaev. Prosecutors have cited factors including a "lack of remorse," the evident premeditation involved in the attack and allegations that Tsarnaev also killed an MIT police officer. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.