Washington, Jul 31 (efe-epa).- A US federal appeals court on Friday voided the death sentence imposed on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for the deadly 2013 bombings at the Boston Marathon, ordering a new penalty-phase trial to decide whether the Chechen immigrant should be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison.
Dzhokhar, now 27, admitted that he and older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev carried out the bombing at the finish line of the Marathon, which left three dead and 264 injured, including 17 people who had to undergo amputations.
In April 2015, a jury found the younger Tsarnaev guilty on a total of 30 charges related to the attack and to the death of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer who the brothers killed as they attempted to flee the Boston area after they were publicly identified as suspects in the Marathon bombing.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a shootout with police during the brothers’ attempted flight.
The ruling issued Friday by a three-judge appellate panel set aside Tsarnaev’s conviction on three of the 30 charges, though the guilty verdicts on the remaining counts are more than sufficient to ensure that he will die behind bars, one way or another.
“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,” Circuit Court Judge Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson wrote for the appellate panel.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers had sought to have the trial moved out of Boston, but the judge hearing the case rejected their motion.
The defense attorneys cited the refusal of the change of venue in their appeal of the death sentence, an argument the appellate judges found convincing.
“One could not turn on the radio (in Boston) either without hearing something about these stunningly sad events,” they said, concluding that US District Court Judge George O’Toole “fell short” of his promise to determine the degree to which media coverage influenced jurors.
The setting aside of Tsarnaev’s death sentence comes as President Donald Trump’s administration has resumed executions at the federal level after a 16-year hiatus.
Family members of several victims of the Marathon bombings expressed opposition to a death sentence for Tsarnaev. EFE bpm/dr