A U.S. federal appeals court has overturned the death sentence of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen and naturalized U.S. citizen convicted in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston on July 31 ordered a new trial over what penalty Tsarnaev should receive for the death-penalty-eligible crimes he was convicted of, finding that the judge who oversaw the case did not sufficiently vet jurors for biases.
A federal jury found Tsarnaev guilty of all 30 counts he faced and sentenced him to death in 2015 just over two years after he and his older brother set off two homemade pressure-cooker bombs near the Boston Marathon’s finish line on April 15, 2013, killing three people and wounding more than 260 others.
His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, died in a gunbattle with police a few days after the bombings.
The three-judge panel at the appeals court in Boston issued its decision more than six months after arguments were heard in the case.
In a brief filed with the court in December 2018, Tsarnaev’s lawyers argued that it was impossible for their client to get a fair trial in the same city where the deadly terrorist attack took place.
They also pointed to social media posts from two jurors suggesting they harbored strong opinions even before the 2015 trial started.
Tsarnaev admitted at his sentencing that he was “guilty of this attack, along with my brother.”
“I am sorry for the lives I have taken, for the suffering that I have caused you, for the damage I have done, irreparable damage,” he said.