Federal Court Weighs Overturning Death Sentence For Boston Marathon Bomber

The attorney for the surviving Boston Marathon bomber asked a federal court Tuesday to overturn his client’s death sentence because of juror misconduct during the trial.

The Boston bomber and his brother killed three people and injured hundreds more with two bombs planted near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013. The brother died after a shootout with police, but the surviving bomber was tracked down and taken into custody.

The Boston Marathon bomber’s attorney, Daniel Habib, is now asking a federal appeals court to intervene and throw out the death sentence first handed down by a federal jury in 2015 and reimposed by the Supreme Court last year. Habib told the First Circuit Court of Appeals that his client’s sentence should be lifted because of issues the Supreme Court did not consider in its March 2022 ruling, such as two jurors accused of lying during jury selection, according to the Associated Press.

Habib said that one juror claimed to not have posted on social media about the bomber, but had shared a post calling the defendant a “piece of garbage.” Another juror had claimed that none of his Facebook friends had posted about the trial, but one friend had pushed the juror to “play the part” to get on the jury and convict the defendant.

Justice Department attorney William Glaser admitted inaccurate statements by some jurors, but said no evidence suggests the jurors acted in bad faith.

“There is no indication in this record that the inaccuracies were the kind of knowing dishonesty that would lead to disqualification,” Glaser said, according to the AP.

The First Circuit judges appeared to entertain Habib’s argument. “Don’t we need to know why it was inaccurate before we know whether it was evidence of some bias or an innocent mistake?” Judge William Kayatta said, according to Reuters.

The Boston Marathon bomber was convicted of 30 charges after a 2015 trial in which his legal team made a minimal effort to defend him. The defense attorney admitted his client’s guilt to some of the charges and called just four witnesses who together gave five hours of testimony. Prosecutors called 92 witnesses who testified over course of 15 days.

The First Circuit overturned the bomber’s death sentence in 2020. The defendant’s legal team had at the time pushed for the jury’s verdict to be overturned as well.

“This case should not have been tried in Boston. [The bomber] admitted heinous crimes, but even so — perhaps especially so — this trial demanded scrupulous adherence to the requirements of the Constitution and federal law. Again and again this trial fell short,” the bomber’s legal team said.

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