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Boston Marathon Bomber Files Motion Seeking New Trial

(Reuters) – Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who has been sentenced to death, filed a motion in federal court on Monday seeking a new trial, according to court records.

The preliminary motion for a new trial cited a lack of evidence in his trial this spring, according to documents filed in federal court in Massachusetts.

Tsarnaev was convicted in April of killing three people and injuring 264 in the bombing near the finish line of the world-renowned Boston Marathon in 2013, as well as fatally shooting a police officer three days later.

The same jury voted for execution by injection in May.

At his formal sentencing on June 24, the 21-year-old ethnic Chechen apologized and admitted he and his now-dead older brother carried out the attack.

Attorneys for the convicted bomber described the motion as a “placeholder” and said they would spell out reasons for seeking a new trial in additional filings by Aug. 17.

Legal maneuvering over Tsarnaev’s fate could play out for years. Just three of the 74 people sentenced to death in the United States for federal crimes since 1998 have been executed.

Three people died in the bombing: Martin Richard, 8, Chinese exchange student Lingzi Lu, 26, and restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, 29.

Three days later, Tsarnaev and his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan, shot dead Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, 26.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following a gunfight with police that ended when Dzhokhar ran him over with a car.

At trial, prosecutors described the brothers as adherents of al Qaeda’s militant Islamist ideology who wanted to “punish America” with the attack on the marathon.

Tsarnaev’s attorneys admitted their client had played a role in the attack but tried to portray him as the junior partner in a scheme hatched and driven by his older brother, who was killed in a shootout with police a few days after the bombing.

(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales and Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Bill Trott)

Boston Bomber Speaks Out For First Time: ‘I Am Sorry For The Lives I Have Taken’

By Richard A. Serrano, Tribune Washington Bureau (TNS)

BOSTON — Speaking for the first time publicly about the explosives he and his brother set off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon two years ago, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev apologized for the bombings and to the victims of the worst terrorist attack in the U.S. since Sept. 11.

“I am sorry for the lives I have taken, for the suffering I caused, for the damage I have done — the irreparable damage,” he said.

In a slight voice and apparently racked by nerves ahead of his formal sentencing, Tsarnaev thanked his defense team and praised the survivors and relatives who spoke in the courtroom earlier “with strength, with patience, with dignity.”

“They told how horrendous this was,” he acknowledged.

Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, detonated two pressure-cooker bombs at the race’s finish line in April 2013, killing three and wounding more than 260. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed days later in a massive manhunt for the bombing suspects. Tsarnaev told investigators days after the bombing that they were motivated by extremist Islamic beliefs and that the attack was in retaliation for the U.S. military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wednesday’s remarks were a departure from Tsarnaev’s behavior during his trial and even earlier in the day, when he showed no emotion during heart-wrenching testimony from victims and the exhibition of the photographs and videos from the bombing. He did not testify.

“I also asked Allah to have mercy upon me and my brother and my family and I pray to Allah to bestow his mercy upon victims and their families,” Tsarnaev said, noting his own Muslim faith.

In emotional remarks earlier Wednesday, victims of the bombing talked about the lasting damage they suffered.

Tsarnaev, referred to only as “the defendant” by victim after victim, remained still throughout. He gave no sign that he was listening as runners and spectators spoke of invisible injuries and the horror of learning that loved ones were grievously wounded.

One woman confessed to remaining too afraid to sleep, but went on to say she had forgiven Tsarnaev.

Other victims expressed anger. Elizabeth Bourgault, who ran in the race, told those gathered: “The defendant will now die for what he did. Whatever God the defendant believes in will not welcome him.”

A prosecutor had to help hold up Liz Norton, whose two children were gravely wounded. “Who could harbor so much evil and so much hate?” she asked Tsarnaev.
Jennifer Maybury, whose nephew lost both legs, told him: “That day changed the course of an entire family.”

A federal jury voted last month that Tsarnaev, 21, a Russian immigrant, should be put to death. On Wednesday, a judge formally sentenced Tsarnaev to six death sentences and 10 terms of life in prison without parole.

In the federal court system, there is an automatic appeal of the verdict and death sentence. But Tsarnaev will soon be moved to a federal facility in Terre Haute, Indiana, where he will become the youngest inmate waiting to be put to death.

The last federal execution was carried out 12 years ago when Louis Jones Jr., a decorated Army soldier, was put to death for kidnapping and killing a female enlistee.

(c)2015 Tribune Co. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

AFP Photo

Death Penalty For Tsarnaev Hurts Boston

Why was 21-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sentenced to die in a state so generally opposed to capital punishment? A recent Boston Globe poll found that only 19 percent of Massachusetts residents wanted the Boston Marathon bomber put to death. The state hasn’t seen an execution since 1947.

That sentence happened because national politics took the matter out of local hands. The federal government forced a death penalty trial. Only those open to a death sentence were allowed to serve on the jury. That made the jury members unrepresentative of the local population and the outcome preordained.

The sentence has eroded a sense of unity — the notion that a community can stand up to an awful crime without compromising its moral objection to capital punishment. And it goes against national trends.

Americans’ support for the death penalty has sharply declined. Not long ago, about 80 percent of the American public favored it. A poll last year found 52 percent preferring life behind bars over execution.

Even some conservative states, such as Nebraska, are witnessing serious moves to end the death penalty. Opposition takes several forms: That capital punishment offends the pro-life ethic — as forcefully stated by Pope Francis. That executing someone who was wrongly convicted is an unspeakable horror. That the drawn-out and expensive appeals process that typically follows a death sentence serves no one, including the victims.

A discomfiting oddity of capital punishment is that whether and how it is applied depends on the place. The flamboyant cruelties of the Islamic State’s beheadings and the antiseptic lethal injections in death penalty states seem variations of the same thing.

In 2008, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled the electric chair unconstitutional. The current debate includes the shortage of drugs for lethal injections. These are discussions one shouldn’t want to have.

Many Americans, Bostonians included, remain adamant that criminals like Tsarnaev need to be eliminated, without much concern for the means. “I don’t think there’s any punishment too great for him,” Boston mayor Martin Walsh said after the sentencing.

And some who generally oppose the death penalty say they would make an exception in the case of terrorism. They describe the Tsarnaev brothers’ rampage as more an act of war than a multiple murder.

We must question, though, whether by defining a heinous crime as a politically inspired act, we are further inflating already grandiose misfits into historic figures. Fears that executing Tsarnaev will elevate the former college student into martyr status are not unfounded.

That his twisted admirers might respond with violence should not be a concern in meting out justice. Let that be said. But how much more diminished Tsarnaev would be if he were simply stored behind bars with the serial rapists and the holdup men.

The gruesome pomp that would surround a Tsarnaev execution could further move the marathon bombing focus from the crime and its victims to the criminal. That helps explain why some of the affected families have opposed a death sentence.

Bill and Denise Richard, whose 8-year-old son was murdered and whose 7-year-old daughter lost a leg in the bombing, have been among them. “For us,” they wrote, “the story of Marathon Monday 2013 should not be defined by the actions or beliefs of the defendant, but by the resiliency of the human spirit and the rallying cries of this great city.”

In sum, they don’t want Tsarnaev made more important than he is.

The marathon’s finish line, once a place to leave flowers, now evokes more complicated emotions. But the society that suffered the carnage did not have a say in the sentencing. That is one consolation for those Bostonians pained by the outcome.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com. 

Handout image shown to jurors on March 18, 2015 in Boston, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice, shows an evidence photo of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at his home in Cambridge

Boston Marathon Bomber Is Sentenced To Death

A federal jury in Boston has sentenced Dzohkhar Tsarnaev to death. The jury reached its unanimous decision Friday afternoon.

The 21-year-old Tsarnaev was responsible, along with his older brother Tamerlan, for the April 15, 2013, attack on the Boston Marathon. The bombing left three people dead, including an eight-year-old boy, and over 200 injured.

This is the same jury that last month found Tsarnaev guilty of all 30 charges against him, 17 of which were capital charges, meeting the legal requirements for the death penalty. These charges included conspiracy to use, and possession of, a weapon of mass destruction, possession and use of a firearm, and bombing of a public place.

The 12-person jury deliberated for 15 hours, according to MSNBC.

During the sentencing phase of the trial Tsarnaev’s defense attorneys emphasized that Tsarnaev had been in thrall to the influence of his older brother, Tamerlan, who died in a standoff with police. Defense attorney David I. Bruck argued that life in the federal “supermax” prison would have been sufficient punishment, and would deny Tsarnaev the publicity he would receive from a protracted appeals process.

During arguments, Bruck showed jurors a picture of the cramped, virtually sunless cell Tsarnaev would spend the rest of his days.

“He goes there and he’s forgotten,” Bruck said. “No more [media] spotlight, like the death penalty brings. His legal case will be over for good, and no martyrdom. Just years and years of punishment, day after day, while he grows up to face the lonely struggle of dealing with what he did.”

Judy Clarke, Tsarnaev’s chief defense attorney, a leading expert on capital punishment, had previously represented, and saved from death row, Theodore Kaczynski, the “Unabomber,” and Zacarias Moussaoui, the self-described “20th hijacker” of the 9/11 attacks.

Tsarnaev would be the first prisoner executed by the U.S. federal government since 2003.

This post has been updated.