On Friday, a federal appeals court in Massachusetts overturned the death sentence of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the man convicted of killing three people and injuring more than 260 others in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
In a 224-page opinion, the three-judge panel of the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the lower court to hold a new trial specifically regarding what sentences Tsarnaev, 27, should receive for the capital offenses he was convicted of in 2015.
According to the Associated Press, Tsarnaev’s lawyers argued that extensive media coverage regarding the bombing made it impossible for their client to have a fair trial in Boston. They also referenced two jurors’ social media posts which suggested they had strong opinions about the 2013 terror attack.
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Tsarnaev’s lawyers said the jury’s foreperson sent a dozen tweets after the bombing — including one in which he called Tsarnaev a “piece of garbage” following his capture.
On April 15, 2013, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, then 19, and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, detonated two makeshift pressure cooker bombs at the marathon’s finish line. The pair stole a car and, on April 18, fatally shot a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer while trying to steal his gun.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died shortly thereafter in a gunfight with police. While Dzhokhar Tsarnaev escaped, a day later officers found him hiding on a boat in Watertown, just outside the police perimeter.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted of all 30 counts against him, including murder, and was sentenced to death. He remains incarcerated at a super-maximum security prison in Colorado.
U.S. Circuit Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson wrote that the judge who presided over Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s 2015 trial “did not meet the standard” of fairness.
Thompson’s opinion reads, “Just to be crystal clear…Dzhokhar will remain confined to prison for the rest of his life, with the only question remaining being whether the government will end his life by executing him.”
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[Featured image: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev/FBI via AP]