Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's death sentence has been overturned by a three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. According to the Associated Press, the judges ordered a new penalty-phase trial, after determining that the judge in Tsarnaev's initial case did not sufficiently vet jurors for biases. "But make no mistake: Dzhokhar will spend his remaining days locked up in prison, with the only matter remaining being whether he will die by execution," the judges said.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers pointed out a number of issues with his trial, but stated that the "first fundamental error" was the judge refusing to move the case out of Boston. They also referred to social media posts from two jurors who suggested they held very strong opinions on the case, before the 2015 trial even began. The appeals judges reportedly first heard on the case in December, and are said to have spent a lot of time questioning the juror bias argument. They inquired as to why the two jurors in question had not been dismissed, or at the very least why the trial judge did not issue follow-up questions after the social media posts surfaced just ahead of the trial. The appeals judges pointed out that the Boston court does have a longstanding rule requiring questioning in these type of situations.
BREAKING: A federal appeals court has overturned the death sentence of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the man convicted in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and injured over 260 others. https://t.co/ot5gX3jPBf— The Associated Press (@AP) July 31, 2020
Tsarnaev’s lawyers stated that one of the jurors posted around two dozen tweets in the immediate wake of the bombings. One of the posts came after Tsarnaev was captured, and referred to him as a "piece of garbage." This juror eventually was chosen as the jury’s foreperson. Tsarnaev was ultimately convicted on 30 charges, including conspiracy and use of a weapon of mass destruction.
On April 15, 2013, Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan initiated a bomb attack at the marathon finish line that killed three people and injured more than 260 others. Tsarnaev’s lawyers did not deny his involvement with the attack, but rather, they argued that Tsarnaev is less responsible than Tamerlan, who they stated was the actual mastermind behind the attack. Tamerlan died during a gunfight with police a few days after the bombing. Tsarnaev is currently behind bars in Florence, Colorado, at a high-security supermax prison.