The US Supreme Court hears arguments in the death penalty case for convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
The highest court in the United States will decide whether to reinstate the death penalty for doomed Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as the Supreme Court heard arguments from US prosecutors and defense lawyers on Wednesday.
Tsarnaev was sentenced six years ago for his role in the 2013 bombing, which left three dead and more than 260 injured. He was sentenced to both life imprisonment and the death penalty.
But his lawyers won a death sentence appeal on the grounds that jurors had not sufficiently heard the arguments that Tsarnaev was deeply influenced by his older brother Tamerlan, who was killed while fleeing the bombings. They also argued that the jury was influenced by dramatic media reports.
Former President Donald Trump’s Justice Department rejected these arguments and appealed for the High Court to restore enforcement in the high-profile case.
But the Supreme Court did not hear the arguments until Wednesday, three months after the department, overhauled by President Joe Biden, declared a moratorium on federal executions.
The three liberal Supreme Court justices appeared more supportive of Tsarnaev in Wednesday’s hearing, while the court’s conservative majority appeared more receptive to arguments for reinstating the original sentence.
Yet conservative justice Amy Coney Barrett asked what was the government’s “end game” regarding the execution of Tsarnaev in light of the moratorium.
She noted that if the administration wins the case, Tsarnaev “would live under a death penalty which the government does not intend to carry out.”
Deputy Attorney General Eric Feigin responded that the Biden administration believed the jury had returned a “strong verdict and the appeals court was wrong to overturn that verdict.”
If the appeal decision is upheld, Tsarnaev would face a new sentencing trial if the Biden administration decides to continue pushing for a death sentence. The Supreme Court is expected to render a decision by June 2022.
The Tsarnaev brothers detonated two homemade pressure cooker bombs at the marathon finish line on April 15, 2013 and a few days later killed a policeman. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after a shootout with the police.
Jurors convicted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the 30 counts he faced and determined he deserved the death penalty for a bomb he planted that killed 8-year-old Martin Richard and Lingzi Lu , 23, a Chinese exchange student. Restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, 29, was killed in the second bomb.