On Thursday, March 21, 2024, CBS News reported that the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the judge who oversaw the trial of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to investigate claims of potential juror bias that were raised during the trial.

The appeals court panel did not throw out Tsarnaev’s death sentence. However, they found that the original trial judge did not adequately examine defense lawyers’ assertions that two people seated on the jury should have been dismissed due to bias. Specifically, the defense argued one juror had posted about Tsarnaev being a “piece of garbage” online before the trial, while another had communicated with a friend advocating to get on the jury to send Tsarnaev to “jail where he will be taken care of.”

If upon further review the trial judge finds either juror should have been dismissed, the appeals court ruled he must vacate Tsarnaev’s sentence and conduct a new sentencing phase trial. This would determine if Tsarnaev receives the death penalty again or life in prison. Regardless of the outcome, Tsarnaev is guaranteed to spend the rest of his life incarcerated due to his crimes, according to the appeals panel.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Massachusetts declined to comment on the appeals court decision. Legal representatives for Tsarnaev also did not provide a statement. The Justice Department now has the choice to request a rehearing from the full First Circuit Court or appeal to the Supreme Court.

The case has seen numerous legal turns since Tsarnaev’s initial conviction and death sentence in 2015. In 2020, the First Circuit vacated the death penalty after finding issues with juror exposure to pre-trial publicity, but the Supreme Court reinstated it in 2022. However, Tsarnaev’s guilt for the Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and injured over 200 was not in question in the latest appeal.

Going forward, the trial judge will now investigate the defense’s juror bias allegations. Depending on the results, there could potentially be a new sentencing phase held. Alternatively, the death penalty may stand if no issues are found. But regardless of future legal decisions, 30-year-old Tsarnaev will spend life in prison for his instrumental role in one of the most devastating acts of domestic terrorism in modern U.S. history.

 

 

Source: CBS News