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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

1 Billion People Used Facebook on Single Day

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the accomplishment in a posting on the social media site More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs