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In the Bible Belt, Christmas Isn’t Coming to Death Row

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When it comes to the death penalty, guilt or innocence shouldn’t really matter to Christians.  

NASHVILLE — Until August, Tennessee had not put a prisoner to death in nearly a decade. Last Thursday, it performed its third execution in four months.
This was not a surprising turn of events. In each case, recourse to the courts had been exhausted. In each case Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, declined to intervene, though there were many reasons to justify intervening. Billy Ray Irick suffered from psychotic breaks that raised profound doubts about his ability to distinguish right from wrong. Edmund Zagorksi’s behavior in prison was so exemplary that even the warden pleaded for his life. David Earl Miller also suffered from mental illness and was a survivor of child abuse so horrific that he tried to kill himself when he was 6 years old.
Questions about the humanity of Tennessee’s lethal-injection protocol were so pervasive following the execution of Mr. Irick that both Mr. Zagorski and M…

Motion Shows How Tsarnaev's Legal Team Will Try to Appeal Death Sentence

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted in 2015 for his role in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent manhunt

Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's legal team has filed a motion revealing their strategy for appealing his death penalty sentence.

The motion, filed with the 1st U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston last week, asked that the Aug. 20 deadline for filing an opening brief be pushed to Nov. 18 due to the "voluminous" number of records his attorneys are sifting through, including 10,000 pages of transcripts.

Tsarnaev's lawyers have about 30 issues they've identified so far in Tsarnaev's appeal, including a pending motion to disclose allegations of his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev's involvement in a disturbing triple homicide and robbery in Waltham, Massachusetts, in 2011.

Some of the other issues raised in the filing included the Boston venue of Tsarnaev's trial, "multiple errors" in jury selection and Tsarnaev's confession to investigators.

Tsarnaev was given the death penalty after being convicted of 30 counts in 2015 in connection with the 2013 bombing that killed three people and injured 260 others and the shooting death of an MIT officer.

He is currently housed at the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed during a shootout with law enforcement officers in Watertown.

Source: NBC Boston, Kaitlin Flanigan, July, 2018


Lawyer for Boston Marathon bomber maps out appeal of death penalty sentence


Boston Marathon bombing
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have flagged roughly 30 issues they plan to raise when he appeals his death sentence, according to a recent legal filing.

A motion filed last week with the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston said the attorneys have “identified approximately 30 appellate claims to consider raising in Mr. Tsarnaev’s [appellate] brief.”

Tsarnaev’s lawyers requested that the Aug. 20 deadline for filing their highly anticipated brief be pushed back to Nov. 18, citing their ongoing analysis of some 10,000 pages of transcripts in the case.

“Even relative to other federal capital appeals and terrorism appeals across the country, the record here is voluminous,” David Patton, a member of Tsarnaev’s appellate team, wrote in the motion.

Tsarnaev, 25, was convicted in 2015 for his role in the April 2013 Marathon bombings, which killed three people including an 8-year-old boy and wounded more than 260 others. He was sentenced to death and is currently incarcerated at a federal supermax prison in Colorado.

Tsarnaev and his older brother and accomplice, Tamerlan, also killed an MIT police officer while they were on the run. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a confrontation with police in Watertown days after the bombings.

In last week’s motion, Patton referenced Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s alleged involvement in a 2011 triple homicide in Waltham. No one has been charged in that case.

“In granting the government’s motion [during Dzhokhar’s trial] to preclude any evidence at the penalty phase of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s involvement in a brutal triple homicide and robbery in 2011, the District Court reviewed and relied upon in camera ex parte materials submitted by the government,” Patton wrote. “In order to fully litigate this preclusion issue in the opening brief, counsel needs access to these materials.”

Patton listed additional issues that Tsarnaev’s team expects to raise on appeal.

“Counsel have completed drafts of a substantial portion of the remaining claims, including issues concerning venue, multiple errors in the selection of the death-qualified jury, the admission of evidence obtained through the use of Mr. Tsarnaev’s involuntary confession, the lawfulness of certain counts of conviction . . . the exclusion of relevant mitigation material, improper prosecutorial arguments, and the admission of victim impact evidence from survivors,” Patton wrote. “But, despite continuous effort, a number of issues identified and determined to be sufficiently weighty for inclusion remain to be drafted.”

Source: Boston Globe, Travis Andersen, July 24, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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