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The jury of seven women and five men, which last month convicted Mr. Tsarnaev, 21, of all 30 charges against him, 17 of which carry the death penalty, took more than 14 hours to reach its decision.
It was the first time a federal jury had sentenced a terrorist to death in the post-Sept. 11 era, according to Kevin McNally, director of the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project, which coordinates the defense in capital punishment cases.
Prosecutors portrayed Mr. Tsarnaev, who immigrated to Cambridge, Mass., from the Russian Caucasus with his family in 2002, as a coldblooded, unrepentant jihadist who sought to kill innocent Americans in retaliation for the deaths of innocent Muslims in American-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
With death sentences, an appeal is all but inevitable, and the process generally takes years if not decades to play out. Of the 80 federal defendants sentenced to death since 1988, only three, including Timothy J. McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, have been executed. Most cases are still tied up in appeal. In the rest, the sentences were vacated or the defendants died or committed suicide.
The Tsarnaev verdict goes against the grain in Massachusetts, which has no death penalty for state crimes and where polls showed that residents overwhelmingly favored life in prison for Mr. Tsarnaev. Many respondents said that life in prison for one so young would be a fate worse than death, and some worried that execution would make him a martyr.
But the jurors in his case had to be “death qualified” — that is, they all had to be willing to impose the death penalty to serve on the jury. So in that sense, the jury was not representative of the state.
Before they could decide that Mr. Tsarnaev should receive the death penalty, the jurors had to wade through a complicated, 24-page verdict slip. On it, they had to weigh the aggravating factors that would justify his death as well as the mitigating factors, presented by the defense, that would argue for him to live.
Source: The New York Times, May 15, 2015
Amnesty International USA Responds to Death Penalty in Boston Bombing Case
In response to the announcement that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death after being convicted in the Boston Marathon bombings, Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA issued the following statement:
"We condemn the bombings that took place in Boston two years ago, and we mourn the loss of life and grave injuries they caused. The death penalty, however, is not justice. It will only compound the violence, and it will not deter others from committing similar crimes in the future.
It is outrageous that the federal government imposes this cruel and inhuman punishment, particularly when the people of Massachusetts have abolished it in their state. As death sentences decline worldwide, no government can claim to be a leader in human rights when it sentences its prisoners to death."
Amnesty International has documented a steady decline in the use of the death penalty in the United States and around the world over the past several years, though in 2014 there was a marked increase in death sentences to address a real or perceived threat of terrorism especially in Egypt and Nigeria. There remains no evidence showing that the death penalty deters crime or has any effect in reducing terrorism.
Annual death sentences in the U.S. have declined since 2000. In the last eight years the number of death sentences has been lower than any time since reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. In 2014 there were 72 death sentences, the lowest number on record since 1976. Executions have declined as well, from a high of 98 in 1999 to just 35 in 2014, the lowest in 20 years; there were 43 executions in 2011 and 2012 and 39 in 2013.
Amnesty International USA opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. As of today, 140 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. The U.S. was one of only nine countries in the world that carried out executions each year between 2009 and 2013.
Source: Amnesty International, May 15, 2015
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