Tsarnaev’s Attorneys Want Him Off Death Row. Here’s What They'll Argue

Tsarnaev’s 1,126 page appeal brief.

United States’ 431 page reply brief.

This is Tsarnaev’s direct appeal of right from his sentencing trial. The adjudication of guilt and death penalty were entered by the District Court on June 24, 2015. Oral arguments were held today, 4 1/2 years later. Given the magnitude of the case, not an unexpected time frame 15 broad issues are being raised, including the issue of the denial of a change of venue and potential misconduct by two jurors, among other things.

The panel hearing his case at the First Circuit will be United States Circuit Judges Juan Torruella, William J. Kayatta, Jr. and O. Rogeriee Thompson.

In an interesting twist, Torruella served on a panel which considered an appeal of the District Court’s refusal to change venue during the trial. The two Judge majority refused the appeal. Torruella, in dissent, would have ordered a change of venue. The panel hearing this case does not include either of the Judges who ruled against Tsarnaev at that time. So the defense starts “one Judge up” on the venue issue.

It will be interesting and I think Tsarnaev has a plausible chance of success, though perhaps not a good chance.

Note the only thing at stake is the sentence, not the underlying conviction. If Tsarnaev succeeds, he merely guarantees that he will live out his natural lifespan at ADX Florence.

Given that circumstance, there will likely come the day he will crave death as a release.

Death by lethal injection certainly sounds preferable to perhaps half a century locked in ADX Florence.

1 Like

There are two foundational aspects of my personal opposition to the death penalty. This is the second - I would argue that life in prison is worse than death, particularly somewhere like ADX Florence.

The first aspect is that I don’t see our legal system is infallible.

Life at ADX is worse then death.

I don’t disagree with either of you about a life sentence being worse.

My counter argument though is twofold:
1). What’s the point in keeping him alive?
2). What’s the cost of keeping him alive?

And as an addition: is the point of keeping him alive worth the expense? In almost all cases I don’t think the cost is worth the additional punishment.

I also don’t disagree with our system being fallible. I don’t expect the death penalty in any case where there can be any doubt. There needs to be concrete evidence like video footage or enough witnesses that they all couldn’t be wrong.

That’s always been my take as well i have never been a strident backer of the death penalty unless it is something that is overwhelming. One must not forget he was going to plead guilty for life in prison but they felt they had enough on him with leaving the backpack were three people died.

Whereas Scott Peterson (Who probably did kill his wife) there is no video and forensic evidence was thin. If it was up to me he would do life in prison. I followed his trial and the one with Casey Anthony she was acquitted and they had a lot more forensic evidence on her.

So I am only for the death penalty if it is just overwhelmingly obvious the crime took place, as you said especially video evidence as we have seen in some of the school shootings.

In today’s world of science, so much can be proven regarding guilt and innocence? If a crime is as heinous as this one was, put the person to death and end this. It should also be used as a deterrent for those who may consider copycatting this crime…by covering the execution closely through the media? Let everyone be reminded what happens to cold blooded killers! IMO…the idea is to change this behavior going forward and applying the death penalty is the best way to accomplish that on all fronts.

Make him think everyday that is left in his life about what he did,

That’s a huge punishment.

And it’s under harsh conditions of Supermax.


This is the type of case that justifies a sentence of death.

If it were up to me…Thumbs down.

I understand and appreciate the life argument and am fine with it should that be the outcome.

Folks who argue that life in prison is worse than the death penalty HAVE to listen to this:

It’s a story through the lens of an ALS patient about how our views on our own deaths change when we get close to the actual event. Very well-told, sad, and thought provoking.

I don’t think people who become cold blooded killers would be deterred in the slightest by seeing an execution on TV.

Death penalty is a punishment not a deterrent.

The Nazis convicted of war crimes at Nuremberg were summarily hung on a gallows or shot by firing squad.
The argument “we’ve moved on as a civilized society since then” is pointless. Wholesale murder of innocents is no different today than the megalomaniac killers of the 20th century and throughout historie.
Tzarnev deserves the same and he should have been hung or shot behind the courthouse post sentencing and his body cremated.

I disagree. When someone can visualize something that they know will happen to them prior to them committing the act, it will be a deterrent.

Think about the mental state of mind one must be in in order to take another human life.

Then honestly tell yourself you believe that they’re thinking about punishment in the future.

The types of people that would be deterred by capital punishment are already deterred.

I have and the idea is to thwart the thought…them knowing what lies at the end of the road they’re now considering. Let them see the pain and suffering that lies ahead if they make this decision and many will choose differently.

Yeah…that doesn’t work.

There’s zero evidence of it.

I wonder why they put up signs detailing surveillance cameras? You should tell them…it doesn’t work.

Your idea that most people are generally bad and need to be constantly under the threat of punishment in order to behave properly is nowhere held up by evidence.

Tell me…there are signs everywhere talking about how speed limits are enforced by radar and in some cases cameras (which are everywhere).

Do people still speed or do they obey the speed limit?

You honestly think if the death penalty went away murders would skyrocket, or if we had publicly filmed executions then they would precipitously drop?

What happens when you’re speeding, come over a hill and you SEE a cop along the side of the highway?:sunglasses:

What I’m suggesting isn’t a cure-all but it would seriously help stop violent crimes when potential perps actually see what happened to others who chose to commit what they are considering.


Info the same speed I’ve been going.

Slowing down is a sure way to get busted.

My point is most people won’t commit murder and those that do are not thinking about possible consequence.

Those who would be skeeved out over seeing executions live…were never going to commit a murder in the first place.

At least…not while they’re in the same state of mind they were when they were skeeved out in the first place.