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Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

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Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Is Guilty in Boston Marathon Bombing Trial

BOSTON — After 11 hours of deliberations over two days, a federal jury on Wednesday found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a failing college student and the youngest child in a dispersed Russian immigrant family, guilty of the 2013 bombings at the Boston Marathon, the worst act of terrorism on American soil since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The bombings almost two years ago transformed one of the world’s most prestigious road races on a glorious spring afternoon into a scene of carnage with bodies strewn across Boylston Street, giving the nation a horrifying glimpse into the consequences of homegrown, self-taught terrorism. The bombs, planted in retaliation for American-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, killed three spectators, blew the limbs off 17 others and wounded 240 more, leaving many with life-altering injuries.

The verdict sets the stage for a second, more contentious phase of the trial in which the same jury will decide whether to sentence him to life in prison or death.

There was little doubt that the jury would find Mr. Tsarnaev, 21, guilty of most charges; his lawyers have admitted that he had been involved in the bombings, and they put on a minimal defense, calling four witnesses who testified for five hours. The government, by contrast, called 92 witnesses over 15 days.

Still, in the first phase of the trial, the defense laid the groundwork for the sentencing phase, casting their client as subordinate to his older brother, Tamerlan, and less culpable for the crimes. The defense team’s goal now is to explain mitigating factors in hopes that jurors will sentence Mr. Tsarnaev to life in prison.

The defense, while conceding Mr. Tsarnaev involvement, cast him as a misguided adolescent led by the domineering and malevolent Tamerlan, who was obsessed with violent jihad and who died after a shoot-out with police.

“We don’t deny that Jahar fully participated in the events,” Ms. Clarker, told the jury in her closing arguments, using his Americanized nickname. “But if not for Tamerlan, it would not have happened.”

Still, she never pretended that Dzhokhar was not guilty, and all but asked for a guilty verdict in her closing. “When you go back to the jury room, we’re not asking you to go easy on Jahar,” she said. “The horrific acts that we’ve heard about, the death, destruction and devastation that we’ve heard about, deserve to be condemned, and the time is now.”

But she did ask jurors to keep their minds open in the sentencing phase.

Just as defense lawyers seek to impress the jurors with the reasons they should spare Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s life, the prosecution will impress upon them the consequences of his murderous actions. Survivors of the blasts and the families of victims are expected to testify in this next phase, as they did in the first, but this time detailing the physical and emotional effects of the bomb blasts on their lives. Others are expected to discuss how the crime gripped the Boston region in fear for five days.


Source: The New York Times, April 8, 2015

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