FILE – In this June 24, 2015 file courtroom sketch, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as survivors and victims, family members, address of the court of U. S. District Judge George O’toole Jr. in the federal district court in Boston. Tsarnaev’s lawyers are expected to file on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018, a long short in which their appeal of his death sentence. (Jane Flavell Collins via AP, File)
BOSTON – Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the conviction, or the death penalty should be thrown out, because it was impossible for him to receive a fair trial in the city where the shrapnel packed pressure cooker bombs exploded, his lawyer told a federal appeals court Thursday.
In a 500-page brief filed in the 1st District of the V. S. Court of Appeals, Tsarnaev’s legal team, are a host of other problems with his 2015 trial, where the defence admitted from the beginning that he and his older brother carried out the attack. His appellate lawyers also point to problems with the jury members, certain testimony of the surviving victims and the defense is not able to tell jurors about the ties between Tsarnaev’s brother and an unsolved triple murder in 2011.
His lawyers argue that the district court judge “first fundamental error was the denial of the defense’s repeated requests to move the case out of a city that was “traumatized by the bombing, ordered to shelter during the manhunt, saturated by the adverse publicity and the united in the Boston Strong movement.”
“This case should not be tried in Boston,” the lawyers wrote.
Tsarnaev was convicted to the death of more than two years after he and his brother set off bombs near the Boston Marathon finish line on April 15, 2013, killing three people and injuring more than 260. He was sentenced to 30 against him, including conspiracy and use of weapon of mass destruction.
Tsarnaev admitted at his sentencing that he committed the attack— saying: “If there is a persistent doubt about that, let there be no more” — and apologized to the victims and their loved ones. The defense was asked to portray Tsarnaev as an impressionable teenager who was lured by his brother into participating in the deadly plot.
Tsarnaev, now 25, is behind bars at the supermax prison in Florence, Colorado. His 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, died in a gunbattle with police a few days after the bombing.
His lawyers pushed multiple times to get the trial, with the argument of the intense media attention and number of people affected by the bombings in Boston would taint the jury pool. But U. S. District Judge George O’toole refused, saying, he believed that a fair and impartial jury in the city can be found.
A three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit agreed, noting that other high-profile terrorism cases, such as in 1993 on the World Trade Center bombing took place in the cities where the attacks took place.
Between the dozens of other problems, Tsarnaev’s lawyers are on the increase of justice and two judges say they should be fired for lying to the judge about their online comments and discussions about the case for the trial.
A jury member said in Twitter messages that she was “locked down” with her family and retweeted another post calling Tsarnaev a “piece of garbage,” but told the court she had no comment on the case or are asked to shelter in place, the lawyers say. On the day of the Tsarnaev trial, the juror changed her Facebook profile photo to an image that said “BOSTON STRONG,” the lawyers say.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers are also challenging the judge refusing to allow the defense to tell the jury about the evidence of a link between Tamerlan to the killing of three people in a suburb of Boston Waltham in 2011. The defense tried for the murder, to underline their argument that Tamerlan was the mastermind and forced his brother to participate in the attacks.
The prosecutors have said Tamerlan’s friend, Ibragim Todashev, involved him in the murder of three men, whose bodies were found sprinkled with marijuana, their throats cut. Todashev was shot and killed by an FBI agent after authorities said he charged another investigator with a stick while being questioned about the Tsarnaevs.
“This is evidence that Tamerlan was a cold-blooded killer who convinced a friend to join him in his crimes strongly supported the defense’s central argument in mitigation: the 26-year-old Tamerlan, a former New England Golden Gloves boxing champion, was a violent man, who planned and directed the bombing, Jahar, his 19-year-old brother, who had no history of violence, participated in the only under Tamerlan’s influence,” his lawyers wrote.
Tamerlan was never charged in the killings, which prosecutors have said will continue to be investigated.
This story has been corrected to show that the Boston Marathon bomber is the first name, Dzhokhar, not Dzkhokhar.
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