By Nadja Green
Thu February 13, 2014
Washington, D.C. -- On January 30th, U.S Attorney General Eric Holder announced that prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. He is charged with planting homemade explosives along with his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, killing three people and wounding 264. His brother was killed in a shootout with police within days after the bombing. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev escaped, but was later apprehended by police when found hiding in a boat parked in a residential yard. According to the Associated Press, law enforcement reported that he wrote various statements inside the boat including, “The US Government is killing our innocent civilians.” and “We Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all.”
In the past, Attorney General Holder has said that he is not a supporter of the death penalty and questions its value. However, he has consented to prosecutors pursuing the death penalty in thirty-six cases since becoming attorney general in 2009. According to Holder, the decision to seek the death penalty for Tsarnaev arose after considering “the nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm.” Prosecutors addressed the issue in a filing with the U.S District Court in Boston, stating that the reasons for the decision were that Tsarnaev’s crime was cruel and premeditated and that he has shown a lack of remorse.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh is in support of the decision. He said, “We stand together as one Boston in the face of evil and hatred."
Tsarnaev's defense has argued against the potential death sentence maintaining that he was being directed by his older brother, and that the government has interfered by withholding crucial evidence and rushing the trial start date. Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty.
According to Reuters, the death penalty has not been applied in the state of Massachusetts for decades. A survey conducted by the Boston Globe reflects that fifty-seven percent of Boston residents support a life sentence, compared to thirty-three percent who favor the death penalty. The decision to seek the death penalty has come under attack by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU, commented on the decision. “I wish federal officials would have respected the clear wishes of the people of Massachusetts, who were on the front lines in this tragic event.” In an interview with ABC, Tsarnaev's mother said, "How can I feel about this? I feel nothing. I can tell you one thing, that I love my son. I will always feel proud of him. And I keep loving him." A trial date has not been set. Legal experts anticipate the death penalty or at the very least, a life sentence for Tsarnaev.