Man Who Bombed Boston Marathon May Receive Death Penalty 9 Years Later


New York Post

Dzhokar Tsarnev and the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Sophia Cooper, Staff Writer

   Three people got up the morning of April 15, 2015 not knowing they would not live another day because a bomb would explode close to the end of the Boston Marathon. One of the two people behind the bombing is Dzhokhar Tsarnev, who may now be facing a death sentence.

   The Boston Marathon takes place annually since its founding in 1897. It was inspired by the first marathon in the 1896 Summer Olympics. In 2015 two homemade pressure cooker bombs were detonated close to the finish line causing three people to lose their lives and an additional 17 people to lose their limbs. It is estimated that the bombs were detonated at around 2:49 p.m. Eastern time. All three of the casualties were caused by excessive loss of blood. Those killed were eight, 23 and 29 years of age. Overall the bombings caused 290 nonfatal injuries. 

   Shortly after the bombing the FBI released images of the bombing suspects Dzhokhar Tsarnev and Tamerlan Tsarnev who are American citizens. The brothers went on the run after their images were released to the media and seen by the entire world. After they were located by authorities, a shootout ensued where Tamerlan was badly injured and was run over by the car his brother was using to escape. Tamerlan was later taken to the hospital where he died. One police officer was killed in the incident and an additional 15 were injured. 

   Tsarnev was arrested after another encounter with the police where he was injured badly with gunshot wounds to the head, neck, legs and hand. He was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and listed in critical condition. Tsarnev was interrogated after his arrest. Those who participated in the interrogation included members of the FBI, CIA and Department of Defense.

   Tsarnev’s case was first heard in the District Court where he was charged with 30 counts and was given the death sentence for six counts. The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reversed the sentence and instead gave Tsarnev life in prison because the judge in the case did not make sure that the jury would not be biased. The United States Supreme Court granted the petition for a writ of certiorari on March 22, 2021. According to Cornell Law School, a writ of certiorari is a type of writ by which an appellate court decided to review a case at its discretion. This writ orders a lower court to deliver its records to the higher court and the higher court has to review it. This Supreme Court uses it to select most of the cases it hears. The case’s first oral arguments were heard in the Supreme Court on Oct. 13, 2021.

   U.S. senators Kelly Ayotte, Saxby Chambliss, Lindsey Graham and John McCain all commented that Tsarnev should be tried as an unlawful enemy combatant. According to AP News, Tsarnev’s guilt has been established and will not be tried, what is being decided is whether he should live the rest of his life in prison or face the death penalty.

   President Biden has pledged to end the federal death penalty but has not commented on this particular case. The decision to charge Tsarnev with the death sentence was made under the Obama administration in which Biden was involved in as the Vice President. This case may test President Biden’s position on the death penalty providing him with a difficult decision early in his presidential term. U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins has stated that if the Attorney General orders her to, she would attempt to reinstate the death penalty against Tsarnev.

   Justice Breyer has announced he is retiring from the Supreme Court. He was present during the oral arguments and has already voiced his opinions on the case. If a justice retires while a trial is being heard and decided, the trial will continue. The current Supreme Court has nine justices. After Breyer retires there will be eight justices, which means there is a possibility of a tie vote. If the vote is tie, the original decision made to not execute Tsarnev will stand. 

UPDATE: On March 4, the U.S. Supreme court decided on the case U.S. v. Tsarnaev reinstating the death penalty for Dzhokar Tsarnev. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion while Justice Breyer wrote the dissenting opinion. The vote was 6-3 with the liberal justices dissenting. To learn more about the case go to: