The Boston Marathon attacks on April 15, 2013, saw three people killed, including an 8-year-old boy, and more than 260 others injured. One of the two men responsible, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, has just announced on Thursday that he will be appealing the death sentence he was handed after a lengthy trial.
As reported by Reuters, Lawyers for Tsarnaev, 25, argued in a 500-page brief filed with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston that the decision of the lower-court judge not to move the trial to a different city that had not been directly affected by the bombing meant their client did not receive a fair trial.
Within the brief, the attorneys admitted their client’s guilt with regard to his part in the bombing, which he carried out with his now-deceased older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Their argument states that Tsarvaev could not possibly have been given a fair trial in a city where the wall-to-wall media coverage meant that all the jurors had heard news of the attack, which included “heart-wrenching stories about the homicide victims, the wounded and their families.”
“The pre-trial publicity was damning: the more a prospective juror had seen, the more likely she was to believe that Tsarnaev was guilty and deserved the death penalty,” Tsarnaev’s lawyers wrote.
According to Tsarnaev’s legal counsel, U.S. District Judge George O’Toole had also ignored evidence that two of the jurors selected for the trial had posted about the bombing on social media before they were picked. They also said they were prevented from providing evidence that Tsarnaev’s brother had been tied to a triple murder two years prior to the bombing.
Their argument was that Tsarnaev was the “junior partner” in the bombing, and the evidence of his brother’s violent history and his allegiance to the Islamic State would have supported that.
Tsarnaev’s sentence came down on him in 2015 after he was found guilty of personally placing a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs near the finish line of the race. Three days later, he fatally shot a police officer. He was 19 years old at the time. The jury found Tsarnaev guilty on 17 capital charges, and said that he deserved execution for six of those charges.
The bombing was one of the highest-profile attacks carried out on U.S. soil since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Tsarnaev’s brother never saw trial, as he was killed a few days after the attack. What started as a gunfight with police ended with him being run over by his brother with a stolen car.