Tsarnaev Convicted on All Counts

The jury found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty on all 30 counts today.

The Boston Globe, in an editorial, urges a life sentence.

For jurors who believe execution should be reserved for the worst criminals, the lawyers laid out a clear path to conclude Dzhokhar wasn’t even the worst of the Tsarnaevs.

....Tsarnaev was 19 at the time of the bombing; he was apparently a heavy drug user; he had no prior criminal record. By themselves, none of these would seem like a particularly good reason to spare him, but taken as a whole, and alongside evidence of his brother’s dominant role, they should plant seeds of doubt.


Other arguments for those who believe in the death penalty to favor a life sentence: It will prevent him from being considered a martyr. Al Qaida, ISIS and similar militant groups want to die for their cause, as they believe it carries big rewards in the afterlife. There's no great fundamentalist cause served by a life sentence to Supermax. It's death that brings glory in their view, not a lifetime of banishment.

In June and July, 2001, juries rejected the death penalty for two defendants in the 1998 Embassy bombing in Tanzania which killed 224 people. In the second case:

In announcing the verdict, for example, the jury forewoman said 7 of the 12 jurors concluded that ''if Khalfan Mohamed is executed, he will be seen as a martyr and his death may be exploited by others to justify future terrorist acts.

Life in prison without parole is a death sentence. The only way out is in a pine box. The only difference is timing.

Jahar is far from the worst of the worst. Whether by plea bargain or jury verdict, Zacarias Moussaoui, shoe bomber Richard Reid, Ramzi Yousef and Terry Nichols are all serving life sentences at Supermax. They have effectively been silenced, except for the occasional pro se court filing complaining of prison conditions.

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    Martyr (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Apr 08, 2015 at 10:32:31 PM EST

    Leaving him alive may foreclose the chance he will be a martyr. OTOH, left alive we may well see more innocent hostages taken and some executed to leverage a prisoner trade.

    How many innocent lives is it worth to spare the needle?  

    I (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by lentinel on Wed Apr 08, 2015 at 11:09:25 PM EST
    honestly don't feel that anybody anywhere is that interested in him, or thinks that much of him to put any major effort together by taking hostages and bargaining for his release.

    You're begging the question. (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Mr Natural on Wed Apr 08, 2015 at 11:18:08 PM EST
    The terrorism and killing will continue anyway.  Nothing will stop it.  Someone may use his name as an excuse or branding for their next horror - but they would have done it anyway.  As for prisoner trading, that just isn't going to happen.

    Death penalty proponents may be heartbroken if they don't get a death sentence.  But it's not like Death penalty opponents will have won anything.  A life sentence traps Tsarneov for the rest of his life in a 7 x 12 foot concrete cage in America's "clean version of Hell," the ADX in Florence, Colorado.

    Can you imagine spending the rest of your life in a 7x12' cage?


    No, but (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 07:51:53 AM EST
    Can you imagine spending the rest of your life in a 7x12' cage?

    Most people also cannot imagine building, and then placing a bomb in a crowded place either.


    Rest of your life.. (none / 0) (#30)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 05:25:18 PM EST
    ...or until such time that practice is found to be cruel and unusual. You certainly seem to feel it is not far from cruel.

    Well, gee, I dunno. (5.00 / 4) (#5)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 12:27:11 AM EST
    Abdul: "How many innocent lives is it worth to spare the needle?"

    How much fevered right-wing hyperbole is it worth to insert it?


    Those must be some good thrillers you read (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by ruffian on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 08:51:25 AM EST
    No one is going to war on this guy's behalf. He was in a gang of 2.

    Literally no one (none / 0) (#11)
    by CST on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 09:19:30 AM EST
    gives a $hit about this kid.

    He's not part of any greater group than him and his brother who is already dead.  Not one member of his family showed up in court.


    death or not? (none / 0) (#27)
    by Amiss on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 03:55:57 PM EST
    11 of the 12 jurors are unsure of the death penalty according to the news channel from Boston.

    Well (none / 0) (#28)
    by Reconstructionist on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 04:02:21 PM EST
     all 12 of them are supposed to be unsure until after all the evidence is heard, arguments are made,  they are instructed and then retire for deliberations.

    Worse Argument Ever... (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 01:34:55 PM EST
    ..."Don't kill him because he wants to die."

    I can think of about 5 solid reasons and five decent ones as to why he should not be executed.  But not doing it because that is what he wants is silly and downright inhumane.  

    No one has the right to not let someone end their own life.  From the cancer patient who had to move to Oregon to end hers, to the force feeding at GITMO, it's inhumane force some one to remain alive that does not want to.

    Saving a life that doesn't want to be saved is ignoring their wants in lieu of your own.

    Except (none / 0) (#32)
    by jbindc on Fri Apr 10, 2015 at 09:47:07 AM EST
    In a case this like, who really cares what he wants?  (Please note, I didn't say what his rights are under the law).

    His wants are irrelevant.


    Exactly... (none / 0) (#33)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Apr 10, 2015 at 09:57:10 AM EST
    ...the punishment is seemly dependent on what they accused wants.

    I Asked in Previous Thread (none / 0) (#1)
    by RickyJim on Wed Apr 08, 2015 at 10:08:12 PM EST

    Can the defense refer to the sentences that Moussaoui, Reid, Yousef and Nicols received while arguing to the jury?  I not sure that I would put Reid and Moussaoui with Yousef and Nicols since their acts didn't directly kill anybody. Could the government seriously claim that what Tsarnaev did is worse than the latter two?

    The death penalty (none / 0) (#6)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 07:40:22 AM EST
    would not surprise me.  I was reading about the moment in the trial when they showed a video of him putting the bomb down right by the small boy who was killed and then stood there by him for an uncomfortable length of time.  It was said it really effected the jurors.

    Obviously I'm not in the jury box (none / 0) (#10)
    by CST on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 09:15:50 AM EST
    or courtroom - so I can't really speak to that.  But... I really wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't get the death penalty.

    There are a number of opinions why not:

    • General opposition - yes they ask the jury in advance, but you could feel uncomfortable with it and still end up there.
    • The "martyr" factor.  He originally wanted to die.  That's what he wrote.  He wanted to be a martyr.  Obviously that's not what he seems to want anymore, but no one wants to martyr this kid.
    • The "age/supermax" factor.  He's young, that's a long time to be stuck in a cage.  A lot of people think that would be worse.  And just what he deserves.

    Again, realizing that the jury will be separated from the news reporting and tone on the trial - I've heard/seen all three of those reasons enough times to think that one person on the jury might think it too.  And only one of them has anything to do with being a "death-qualified" juror.

    True (none / 0) (#31)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 06:12:40 PM EST
    neither would be particularly surprising.

    As I said in an earlier thread (none / 0) (#8)
    by Reconstructionist on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 08:31:05 AM EST
      this will be Clarke's most difficult challenge in sparing him from the DP-- at least of cases of which I am aware.

      Other cases involved defendants who, while competent and criminally responsible by legal standards, suffered from severe  mental illness. The only thing I have heard in this case which is even suggestive of impaired capacity is that he voluntarily smoked a lot of marijuana. That is unlikely to register with jurors  to the same extent.

      Also, Ted Kaczynski, Jared Loughner and Eric Rudolph  were all  spared by virtue of  plea agreements not a jury verdict. With Kaczynski and  Loughner, no  doubt the government was influenced by the fact both were  deemed  paranoid schizophrenic. Rudolph might present the closest parallel to this case as he appears to have been motivated by political extremism rather than compelled by mental illness, but again, that was a plea agreement not a jury deciding he should not receive the death penalty.

      Susan Smith was spared by a jury but was able to present compelling expert evidence of mental illness (and she was a white American woman which while not a "legitimate" factor is a real world factor). I might be wrong, but I believe that is the only case where Clarke "won" a life sentence for  a defendant convicted of a DP eligible murder. As I recall  Moussaoui is the only other jury verdict, and he didn't actually kill anyone (he was a member of a conspiracy which resulted in murder so was found DP eligiblke) He pleaded guilty but did not have a deal taking the DP out so there was a sentencing before a jury and Clarke did convince the jury to go for LWOP.

      I'm making no prediction and not downplaying Clarke's skill or tenacity in any way. I'm merely observing this case is quite different, and in my estimation, more difficult than the prior ones.

    Closest Parallel is Terry Nichols (none / 0) (#12)
    by RickyJim on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 09:23:40 AM EST
    From Wikipedia:
    After a federal trial in 1997, Nichols was convicted of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and eight counts of involuntary manslaughter for killing federal law enforcement personnel.[7][8] He was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole because the jury deadlocked on the death penalty.[6] He was also tried in Oklahoma on state charges of murder in connection with the bombing. He was convicted in 2004 of 161 counts of first degree murder, including one count of fetal homicide;[6] first-degree arson; and conspiracy.[9] As in the federal trial, the state jury deadlocked on imposing the death penalty.[6][10] He was sentenced to 161 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole,[2][6] setting a Guinness World Record[11] and is incarcerated at ADX Florence, a super maximum security prison near Florence, Colorado. He shares a cell block that is commonly referred to as "Bombers Row" with Ramzi Yousef and Ted Kaczynski.
    Judging from this, it is hard to see how the government could do better with all 12 members of a Boston jury.  I wonder if Terry, Ramzi and Ted will give Dzhokhar an enthusiastic welcome.

    I'm pretty sure (none / 0) (#13)
    by Reconstructionist on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 09:42:29 AM EST
    Clarke was not involved in either of Nichols' trials.

      That aside, I'd agree that is a closer parallel than Rudolph because Rudolph did not have an "I was manipulated by a dominant personality" defense.


    Sen. Elizabeth Warren: he shouldn't (none / 0) (#14)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 09:50:00 AM EST
    get the death penalty. CBS

    Comment:  this is an issue to be decidedby the jury.  Ms. Warren should have refrained from offering opinion until the jury has finished its work. Maybe Sen. Warren is going to run from HRC's left!

    seriously? (none / 0) (#16)
    by CST on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 09:54:39 AM EST
    Everyone and their brother who has anything to do with MA has offered their opinion on the matter, and plenty of people who don't.  Why should Warren be any different?

    Do you have a problem with "John Miller, the deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism for the New York Police Department" voicing his opinion in the same article?

    Or for that matter every reporter in Boston?


    They should all shut up until the (none / 0) (#18)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 10:15:20 AM EST
    jury decides.  

    why? (none / 0) (#19)
    by CST on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 10:39:55 AM EST
    Guilt has already been decided.  This was always about the appropriate punishment.  The punishment in question is hugely political.

    The death penalty is banned under state law in MA.  I want to know that my elected representative to the senate feels the same way about the federal law.  I want to know that her goal is the same as my goal which is to eliminate the possibility for the jury to decide on death in the future.

    I don't really need the jury to tell me how I should feel about that issue, and I don't really think anyone else does either.  Nor should they refrain from making those views known just because the jury in question hasn't yet.


    I think (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Reconstructionist on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 11:27:00 AM EST
     elected officials should refrain from expressing opinions on the proper outcome of pending cases. They have a First Amendment right to do so, but  exercising a right isn't always "right."

      It would be preferable to say something non-case specific such as, "my opposition to the death penalty in all cases is well known."

      Those who support the death penalty should  similarly not opine that a particular defendant should be executed (which might draw a different reaction from most here, but is the exact same principle).


    I agree, Reconstructionist (none / 0) (#29)
    by Green26 on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 04:38:40 PM EST
    It is not appropriate for elected officials, particularly those in higher offices, to express their opinions on pending court cases.

    Well-stated. I assume the jury is not (none / 0) (#20)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 10:47:26 AM EST
    sequestered.and that thecourt has instructed the jury not to watch/hear/read anything about the case.

    "they should all shut up" (none / 0) (#24)
    by Mr Natural on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 12:05:01 PM EST
    You're fighting human nature and nurture, Oculus.  

    And Their First Amendment Rights (none / 0) (#25)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 01:10:58 PM EST
    And don't think there is anything wrong with anyone on the planet commenting that they shouldn't kill someone just because they can.

    And if Warren can influence the jury with one comment, she is in the wrong business as Clarke has spent weeks trying to do just that.


    So the boston globe (none / 0) (#15)
    by CST on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 09:50:13 AM EST
    Has gone full anti-death penalty today, with 3-4 articles on the front page, and they are hitting it from every angle.

    Not too surprising.  Here's the argument that I think is most convincing, and it gives you some sense of where the actual jurors stand.

    First (none / 0) (#21)
    by Reconstructionist on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 11:11:48 AM EST
      the "striking number" who believe LWOP is worse appears to be a stretch. I see 3 who less than absolutely opined ("can be" not "is"; "sometimes";  "on the fence")

    ... a striking number of them said they thought life in prison was actually a worse fate for a 21-year-old like Tsarnaev than death.

    One of the jurors who will decide Tsarnaev's fate, a man who works for a municipal water department, said the death penalty can be "the easy way out...."

    Another juror, a telecommunications engineer, said he was on the fence about what was worse.

    Still another, a student whose mother came from Iran, said he believed the death penalty can sometimes be merciful.

    "I think it takes away the burden of a person's soul," he said.

       One might also wonder whether a truly held  belief execution is merciful and not as bad would  be a reason to vote for or against the DP.

      Just as some people might vote against the DP because they don't want to impose what they consider the "worst" penalty, might some vote for the DP because they don't want to impose what they consider the worst penalty?

      There is also the reality that the jurors likely realize that he would spend years prior to execution in his tiny cell, then (probably) be killed. When you think about it that way you might reconsider which is "worse." In both cases you spend the rest of your life in captivity and it's a long period of time. The only difference is you die probably sooner with the DP and from a different cause.

      Now, my personal thought is that regardless of what people might say in voir dire(and think they truly believe when answering a question propounding a still "semi-abstract" proposition), when confronted with the actual life or death decision, it will be the very rare person who does not come to view death as the worst punishment they can deliver. Actual votes against  death not for it will likely be the ones motivated by considerations of "mercy, "compassion" etc.



    Also (none / 0) (#23)
    by christinep on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 11:45:07 AM EST
    CBS News this a.m. showed the public, official letter from Catholic Church hierarchy calling for life rather than the death penalty.  (While the Church has long opposed the death penalty--even with Popes speaking to particular cases--this official letter in this time and space is a special public plea.)

    And--speaking briefly with a neighbor this morning as I returned from a blossoming springtime dog-walk--I learned that the conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer opined that a life sentence would be better so as not to martyr Tsarnaev.


    dp (none / 0) (#17)
    by Uncle Chip on Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 09:57:46 AM EST
    I doubt that he will get the death penalty from a Boston jury.

    Trying to find a death penalty believer in Boston is like trying to find someone who is not Irish there on St Paddy's Day.

    Isn't Talk Left a crime website? (none / 0) (#34)
    by TycheSD on Sat Apr 11, 2015 at 09:17:18 AM EST
    The Tsarnaev trial is major news.  The death penalty is on the public's mind.  One would think the people who come to this site oppose the death penalty.  Yet there is more interest on this site in Hillary running for president.

    Most people here do oppose the death penalty (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by CaptHowdy on Sat Apr 11, 2015 at 10:13:45 AM EST
    and most of us can do two things at once.  Sometimes three!

    politics has always (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by CST on Sun Apr 12, 2015 at 01:29:16 PM EST
    gotten more comments than crime on this site.  But there is a focus on both.

    I find it a bit curious that rather than adding to, or starting a discussion about the death penalty you chose to complain about the existing lack of discussion.

    Also, there have been a lot of separate threads on this one trial, and many of us have been talking about it for some time.

    In any event, did you have something you'd like to say about the death penalty?


    There is a Search Feature... (none / 0) (#45)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Apr 13, 2015 at 01:44:44 PM EST
    ... to read comments regarding the death penalty.  Your comment is ridiculous in it's assumption that TL doesn't discuss the DP.  I believe there are probably 50 posts about this case, and hundreds about the DP, did you want everyone to have an in depth discussion about something that nearly everyone agrees upon ?

    Oddly enough, when I click you name and read your comments, in 2013 you made many regarding this case.  So you surely know that it's been discussed over a two year period.

    Why the idiocy ?


    I'm Not A Conspiracy Theorist (none / 0) (#36)
    by RickyJim on Sat Apr 11, 2015 at 10:07:17 PM EST
    But there are some serious questions about the FBI role in this case that are discussed in this article.  In particular, the fact that the FBI claims it wasn't able to identify Tamerlan Tsarnaev from pictures that were released a few days before he was killed can be seriously challenged.  What the FBI was doing in Cambridge on the day of the shootout has been questioned by, among others, US Senator Charles Grassley (R. Iowa).  As Masha Gessen has pointed out, this trial wasn't an inquest about the whole incident but was just about punishment and I agree with her that there is some credible evidence of an FBI coverup.

    Did Grassley (none / 0) (#37)
    by CaptHowdy on Sun Apr 12, 2015 at 07:50:30 AM EST
    tweet about it?

    I Don't Know (none / 0) (#38)
    by RickyJim on Sun Apr 12, 2015 at 09:00:42 AM EST
    Why do you ask?  This is Grassley's letter to the FBI where he questions why the FBI kept local law enforcement out of the loop.  As you may know, in her new book, Masha Gessen speculates that the FBI has covered up its relationship (informant?) with Tamerlan, perhaps out of fear of revealing its incompetence.  I agree with the Mass. ACLU blog and Gessen that the trial, so far, has left many mysteries about the case.  Maybe some will be unraveled in the sentencing phase.

    Well, the defense did not dispute the charges, (none / 0) (#41)
    by Mr Natural on Sun Apr 12, 2015 at 06:42:30 PM EST
    so, where are you going with this?  Was the pressure cooker filled with "nano-thermite" from unexploded WTC ceiling tiles?

    Read the Article on the ACLU Blog (none / 0) (#43)
    by RickyJim on Sun Apr 12, 2015 at 07:55:33 PM EST
    and tell me which of the issues raised you don't regard as serious.

    Why are there so many sealed motions and orders? (none / 0) (#40)
    by TycheSD on Sun Apr 12, 2015 at 05:14:10 PM EST
    Okay, there is the story that the media has been promoting for two years - that two radicalized brothers bombed the Boston Marathon on their own in retaliation for U.S. killing of Muslims around the world.  They felt the U.S. needed to be punished, as one of the prosecutors stated - and which was the major headline for that day of the trial.

    But there is a lot about this case that raises questions and makes one wonder if we're getting the whole story.  

    There have been conspiracy theorists from the beginning - many of whom got into the false flag, crisis actor, meme that was widely disseminated and which made those people sound like complete idiots - and cruel and callous ones at that.  To claim that Martin Richard and his family were faking their injuries is beyond cruel and beyond ridiculous.  

    But now we have journalists who write for mainstream publications like the Washington Post and the Boston Globe also asking questions - finally.  Whether the defense should raise these issues and attempt to create doubt about the official story, I don't know.  I don't know if Judge O'Toole will allow it.  But if I were trying to save this kid's life, I think I would pull out all the stops.  

    I am not an attorney, so expert comments would be appreciated.

    What are you talking about? (none / 0) (#42)
    by christinep on Sun Apr 12, 2015 at 07:17:46 PM EST
    I may need a translator here, but--honestly--the conspiracy kind of music associated with the old Twilight Zone seems rather pronounced.  What gives?

    Masha Gessen & Kevin Cullen & ACLU lawyer (none / 0) (#44)
    by TycheSD on Sun Apr 12, 2015 at 09:11:19 PM EST
    Have been asking questions about the FBI's involvement with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, where the bombs were made, whether others were involved, etc.  I don't know if these issues can be raised during the penalty phase and if they should be.