News / USA

Accused Boston Bomber to Learn by January if US Will Seek Death Penalty

FILE - This courtroom sketch depicts Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev standing with his lawyer Judy Clarke (L) before Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler (R) during his arraignment in federal court in Boston, July 10, 2013.
FILE - This courtroom sketch depicts Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev standing with his lawyer Judy Clarke (L) before Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler (R) during his arraignment in federal court in Boston, July 10, 2013.
Reuters
— Accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will learn by late January whether the U.S. government wants to execute him if he is convicted in one of the largest attacks on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.
 
Federal prosecutors in Boston, by the end of October, will pass on to the Justice Department in Washington their recommendation on whether to seek the death penalty. Attorney General Eric Holder will decide about 90 days after that, Assistant U.S. Attorney William Weinreb told a judge on Monday.
 
Prosecutors say that Tsarnaev, 20, and his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan planted a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs at the race's crowded finish line on April 15, killing three people and wounding 264. Three nights later, the pair killed a university police officer and later engaged in a shoot-out with police that left Tamerlan dead, prosecutors contend.
 
Weinreb told U.S. District Judge George O'Toole that the Justice Department believed it had authority to determine when it would make the decision on whether to seek the death penalty.
 
“We think that six months is a reasonable time,” Weinreb said. Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty in July to 30 criminal counts.
 
Defense attorney Judy Clarke, a death-penalty specialist, told the court she was concerned that the prosecutors planned to decide whether to seek execution before the defense had finished reviewing the evidence.
 
“It's pretty stunning to say they can make a decision based on what they know without any defense input,” Clarke said. “They may have an erroneous story.”
 
Raise the stakes
 
While jurors are supposed to consider guilt and sentencing as separate matters, the knowledge that prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty can raise the stakes in a jury's eyes, said Barry Slotnick, a defense attorney with Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney.
 
“If they are aware of the fact that the prosecution is going to ask for the death penalty, the jury may determine that there is a greater burden on the part of the prosecution to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Slotnick said.
 
O'Toole also warned attorneys that he planned to review all requests to enter documents into the record under seal, which blocks them from public view.
 
“Before something can be filed under seal, there must be a motion to seal explaining the reason why the matter should be placed under seal ... and indicate when the matter might be unsealed,” O'Toole said.
 
The initial charges against Tsarnaev, read to him as he lay badly wounded in a hospital bed three days after his arrest, were filed under seal.
 
Three days after the bombing, the Tsarnaev brothers are  accused of killing MIT university police officer Sean Collier in an unsuccessful attempt to steal his gun.
 
Tsarnaev, who is being held at a federal prison west of Boston ahead of trial, was not in court on Monday. When he last appeared in court in July, he had a cast on his left arm and his face was swollen, the result of injuries sustained in the gun battle with police.
 
The three people who died in the April 15 bombing were 29-year-old restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, graduate student Lingzi Lu, 23, and 8-year-old Martin Richard.
 
After killing Collier, the Tsarnaev brothers engaged police officers in Watertown, Massachusetts, in a gun battle that ended when Dzhokhar drove off in a stolen sport-utility vehicle, running over his brother and contributing to his death, according to court papers.
 
The surviving Tsarnaev's escape prompted a day-long lockdown of most of the Boston area that ended when police found him hiding in a boat that was parked in a backyard.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid