Boston Marathon bombing victims disagree on death penalty in U.S. Supreme Court case

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Liz Norden and Mickey Borgaard both suffered when two bombs exploded at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, sending shrapnel through a crowd of hundreds. Norden’s two adult sons lost their right legs. Borgard sustained hearing loss and a brain injury.

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Yet he and others struck by the attack that killed three people and injured 264 disagreed over whether convicted bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be hanged – a question the US Supreme Court will consider Wednesday When justices will hear the US government’s bid to restore his death sentence. .

“I know a lot of people didn’t want him to receive the death penalty for his own reasons,” said Norden, who sat three months into the 2015 trial. “Everyone is entitled to their point of view. But for me, I wanted it.”


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Borgard, who also attended the trial, is against hanging anyone.

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“I think it’s easy for people to say they’re anti-death penalty until something happens to them,” he said. “But I was never a supporter of the death penalty in this case.”

The Supreme Court is set to hear an appeal of the federal government’s lower court ruling that overturned Tsarnaev’s death sentence and requires a new trial to determine whether he should serve life in prison .

Two ethnic Chechen brothers carried out one of the most shocking attacks on American soil since September 11, 2001.

Tsarnaev, now 28 and 19 at the time, and his older brother Tamerlan detonated two homemade pressure-cooker bombs at the marathon’s finish line on April 15, 2013. Those killed were Chinese exchange student Lingzhi Lu, 23; restaurant manager Crystal Campbell, 29; and Martin Richard, 8.

After hiding for four days in the Boston area, the brothers tried to escape by killing Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed after an encounter with the police, which ended when his younger brother crushed him with a stolen car.

In 2015 jurors found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty of all 30 counts they faced and later determined that he deserved execution for the bomb he planted that killed Lou and Richard.

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a reversal

The Boston-based First US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that the trial judge “fell short” in screening jurors for potential bias after widespread news coverage of the bombings and ordered a new death sentence phase-out trial.

The 1st Circuit insisted that even if he was not hanged, Tsarnaev would remain in prison for the rest of his life. He is imprisoned in the “Supermax” federal prison in Florence, Colorado.

The Justice Department began its appeal during the administration of Republican former President Donald Trump and continued after Democrat Joe Biden took office, even though Biden opposes the federal government’s use of the death penalty.

Opposition to the death penalty, as opinion polls have shown, has increased in the United States, while its use has declined. Liberal-leaning Massachusetts is one of a growing number of US states that have abolished the death penalty in state courts. The 2013 and 2015 polls found that a majority of Boston voters supported a life sentence for Tsarnaev.

This year’s marathon gets underway on Monday, two days ahead of the Supreme Court’s arguments.

Even during his trial, the victims disagreed about Tsarnaev’s sentence. Martin’s parents Bill and Denise Richard, in an open letter published in the Boston Granthshala newspaper in 2015, urged prosecutors not to pursue the death penalty, saying it would prompt years of appeals and “destroy our lives”. Will prolong the most painful day.”

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According to former top federal prosecutor Andrew Lelling in Massachusetts, during conference calls held by prosecutors over the years, survivors expressed views on both sides of the debate.

“That’s one of the problems with death-penalty litigation—it goes on too long to the detriment of victims who have to suffer through repeated appeals,” Lelling said.

Borgard, 30, said he worries the Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, may use the case “as an argument for the execution of other human beings”.

“For me personally this means that I have been implicated in other cases,” Borgaard said. “And I’m really not okay with that at all.”

Norden, 59, said his views in favor of hanging for Tsarnaev had not changed, asking: “If it doesn’t guarantee the death penalty, what does?”

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Granthshala editors, giving you a brief summary of the day’s most important headlines. .


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