16:44, July 31 84 0 theguardian.com

2020-07-31 16:44:04
Boston Marathon bomber's death sentence overturned by appeals court

A federal appeals court on Friday overturned the death sentence of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the man convicted in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

The three-judge panel of the first US circuit court of appeals in Boston issued the decision more than six months after arguments were heard.

The attack on 15 April 2013 killed three people and injured more than 260.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers argued that intense media coverage made it impossible to have a fair trial in Boston. They also pointed to social media posts from two jurors suggesting they harbored strong opinions before the 2015 trial started.

In a hearing on the case in early December, appeals judges devoted a significant number of questions to the juror bias argument.

They asked why the two jurors had not been dismissed, or at least why the trial judge had not asked follow-up questions after the posts came to light on the eve of the trial.

The judges noted that the Boston court has a longstanding rule obligating such an inquiry.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers say one of the jurors, who would become the foreperson, published two dozen tweets in the wake of the bombings. One after Tsarnaev’s capture called him a “piece of garbage”.

Tsarnaev was convicted on 30 charges, including conspiracy and use of a weapon of mass destruction. He has been serving his sentence in a high-security supermax prison in Colorado.

His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in a gun battle with police days after the two brothers detonated two pressure cooker bombs near the marathon finish line.

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