The lawyers for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are heading to court Tuesday to ask for a new trial for the 22-year-old, who has been sentenced to death. The arguments will be heard Tuesday by Judge George O'Toole Jr. at the U.S. District Court, but only on the portion of his motion linked to the Supreme Court ruling issued against him in June.
In April, Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 charges slapped against him for his role in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, where he and his brother Tamerlan set off explosives at the finish line. The explosions killed three people and injured 260. Of the 30 charges against him, 17 of them carried a possible death sentence and on June 24, Tsarnaev apologized to the family members of the victims and was formally sentenced to death.
"I am sorry for the lives that I've taken, for the suffering that I've caused you, for the damage that I've done. Irreparable damage," Tsarnaev said in June.
However, his lawyers said that the Supreme Court's June ruling jeopardizes 15 of his convictions because the ruling focused on the legal definition of a "crime of violence," which was called unconstitutionally vague by the court, the Associated Press (AP) reported. Tsarnaev’s defense lawyers argue that he should get a fresh trial because the death penalty ordered to Tsarnaev seems to be influenced by the 15 counts, which were linked to crimes of violence.
"The defense is urging that the (Supreme Court) decision should be a catalyst to reopening the entire penalty phase. The argument is that these convictions are in jeopardy and that those counts somehow clouded the jury's judgment on the death-eligible sentences, therefore, all of the sentences should be looked at again," Daniel Medwed, a professor at Northeastern University School of Law, said, according to AP.
Tsarnaev’s defense team said during the trial that he and his elder brother conducted the bombing but added that Tamerlan was the mastermind behind the attack. They said that Tsarnaev, who is currently being held at the federal Supermax prison in Colorado, did not deserve a death penalty because of that.
In their motion seeking a fresh trial, the lawyers also asked that the location of the trial be changed, AP reported. The lawyers gave the reason of a possible partiality among the jurors in greater Boston due to the publicity before the trial, local outrage, and the intense media coverage for the second anniversary of the attack.
The judge is also set to hear a motion from prosecutors who want Tsarnaev to compensate those injured and killed in the attack.