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Court Reinstates Tsarnaev Death Penalty

The U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death sentence for convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, reversing an appeals court decision that had tossed out a jury's decision on the grounds that the trial judge excluded mitigating evidence, the Associated Press reports. The 6-3 decision, with Justice Clarence Thomas writing for the majority, found that Tsarnaev received a fair trial, despite the complaints that jurors didn't hear evidence that could have shown Tsarnaev was heavily influenced by his older brother Tamerlan, who died in the bombing aftermath, and that the trial judge did not sufficiently screen jurors for their exposure to news coverage of the bombing.

Tsarnaev's guilt was not at issue in the appeal, only whether he is to be executed or serve the rest of his life in prison. Writing for the three dissenting justices, Justice Stephen Breyer said the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was right to find the excluded evidence prejudiced the jury's decision. “I have written elsewhere about the problems inherent in a system that allows for the imposition of the death penalty," Breyer wrote. "This case provides just one more example of some of those problems."


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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