Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: Should and Will He Get the Death Penalty?

So what? My point is that they did not give him the death penalty, which you seem to assume will be so easily attained in Massachusetts.

I don’t think he should. He just seems like a stupid, stupid kid. Not evil.

As for whether he will, I have no expertise, but don’t believe so. I’m thinking there’s not much blood lust toward oblivious 19 year olds. Maybe if it turns out he smirks a lot or thinks he’s hot shit.

From a viewpoint of revenge, I think spending his whole life in prison is as hellish as a painless death, and also makes the US look better in the eyes of the world. Which might microscopically help in avoiding further attacks.

I’m not disagreeing that it is not possible for Dzhokhar to not be sentenced to death. Of course it could happen. Hell, something could screw up the case and they could declare a mistrial. I’m just saying that in this case it appears at first glance to be a slam-dunk for the prosecution as opposed to the muddied case for Nichols. I strongly believe that unless the defense is able to get a good number of left-leaning jurors that could deadlock the jury from sentencing him to death then Dzhokhar will indeed get the death penalty.

I apologize to anyone offended by my use of the term “left-leaning”. I truly and honestly did not want to make this a “left vs right” thing but I couldn’t think of another way to phrase it. It just seems to me that people who are more liberal in their politics tend to be more reluctant to impose the death penalty. I know that each of the prospective jurors will be asked if they are capable of imposing the death penalty. That is a prerequisite for them to be seated in a case where death is a possible sentence. However, I think that when push comes to shove there might be more reticence from liberals than conservatives. Massachusetts is a historically liberal state so there is a possibility that the jury could swing away from the death penalty. I really doubt it, though.

I think he will get the death penalty. The defense will try to portray him as a misguided kid under the sway of his psycho brother, but I don’t think they’ll succeed. The fact that we have video footage of these guys planting the bombs will seal his fate.

One thing that maybe someone can clarify. Were people killed by both bombs? If not, then is it not possible that he planted the bomb that didn’t kill anyone. In that case, can the feds still seek the death penalty?

I read just a little while ago that the older brother’s bomb killed the two women while Dzhokhar’s killed the young boy.

ETA: It was CNN’s Backpacks to ‘flash-bangs’: Week of terror article.

I imagine it wouldn’t matter since he conspired with his brother to make and plant the bombs.

Legally, it doesn’t make any difference. Our legal system tends to use the “In for a penny, in for a pound” school of thought. Even if all he’d done was to drive his brother to the bombing site, he could still be charged with a capital crime because he participated in the crime.

I realize I never answered the question of should he get the death penalty. I don’t have any problem with the death penalty on a theorical level, but practically speaking our system is too badly flawed for us to be putting people to death. Far too many people have been sentenced to death only to be cleared later, sometimes only days before their scheduled exection.

That said, this does seem to be about as clear-cut a case as it’s possible to have. About the only conceivable ways he could be innocent are:
(1) he has an identical-twin brother that has totally escaped the notice of every US authority, or
(2) there was a massive, wide-ranging conspiracy to frame him, going so far as to fabricate video footage of him pklacing bombs, and forwarding this information to multiple independent sources.

Do you have a cite for that?

Every court case involving two or more persons where one didn’t do any actual killing.

OK, fine… IIRC, Charles Manson wasn’t personally responsible for any murders but he was sentenced to death all the same for leading the “family.”

Start with 18 USC 2, (the section of the United States Code which deals with Crimes and Criminal Procedure) which defines “Principals”.

If Dzhokar’s ‘driving the bomber to the site’ constitutes aiding and abetting, he’s a principal too, just like the bomber. Other states have similar guidelines for establishing criminal violations. See “the felony murder rule” for other examples.

The crime he’ll probably face the death penalty for, (and why jtgain mentioned interstate commerce in another thread) is 18 USC 2332(a)(a), which reads:

Note all of the requirements that the criminal acts be tied in some way to interstate or foreign commerce. Normally, the Federal Government doesn’t have jurisdiction over criminal acts, unless they occur on U.S. Gov’t property, or are violations of specific federal crimes (which laws establishing said crimes need some initial Constitutional basis). Affecting interstate commerce (which the Federal Government has power over from Article 1, section 8, clause 3) is a popular way of establishing federal jurisdiction. That said, my guess is that the Boston Marathon will be found to be interstate commerce and that “the offense affect[ed] interstate commerce.”

Just to be clear, I’m not saying I don’t believe he can’t be prosecuted. I’m saying I don’t think he can be given the death penalty (if he didn’t actually kill anyone). I’m thinking of the recent SCOTUS ruling that said the death penalty can only used for murder (ie, not rape). I’m just not seeing in those cites where the death penalty is proscribed. I could be wrong, but I’m haven’t seen anything yet that convinces me.

Agreed. He’s only 19 so he could spend the next 60-70 yrs in a concrete cell.


I’m not sure of why you think he can’t be given the death penalty. If he is guilty of 2332(a), and he appears to be, the statute provides for the death penalty if death resulted from the act (the bombing), and of course we know that three people are dead from it. If his actions constitute aiding and abetting, (And don’t we have video showing him planting one of the bomb-carrying bags?), then he’s a principal to the crime, and just as guilty as if he planted the bombs himself.

Now, we can argue whether we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt whether his actions meet the definition for aiding and abetting this crime, but if they do, he’s guilty. The statute even gets you if you conspire to use a WMD. (Let’s leave aside the definition creep that a bomb now equals a weapon of mass destruction.) Other sections of Title 18 provide for lesser penalties if all you’re guilty of is conspiracy to commit the underlying crime. But I think you can easily make the case that this Dzhokar was a principal to the crime and therefore just as guilty as his brother.

We’ll see. I’m curious what the opinion is of actual lawyers on the Dope. I am not one.

Maybe I missed it, but where does it say that anyone guilty of violating that statute can be given the death penalty?

Again, part of my premise is that he may have planted a bomb that didn’t kill anyone. If both bombs killed people, then the premise is wrong. Does anyone know if all the deaths occurred because of only one of the bombs?

Your premise is faulty. Or else you purposely missed this post:

The section ends that a person who violates the law “shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life, and if death results, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.”

As someone who is not at all a lawyer, I still think he’d be guilty in that instance because he was part of the (two-man) conspiracy that executed the bombings.

Never mind. I see that statute listed under Federal Laws Providing for the Death Penalty

And here’s the criminal complaint against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Looks like they’re charging him under 18 USC 844(i) as well.

It reads:

Not the clearest written statute, but basically, use a bomb against an activity affecting interstate commerce, and kill somebody, you get the death penalty or life imprisonment.

I’ll bite on this one.

Stupid kids do things like accidentally blow up propane tanks with .22s which kill an old lady in her home and then face potential manslaughter charges.
Or maybe, get involved with an older person who seduces them and convinces them to kill their husband for example because he’s a ‘bad mean man.’
Tsarnaev is an adult whom knows right from wrong and willing engaged in the destruction and wanton death.
Even if he was fourteen I’d still put him to death given the circumstances.