Justice Department seeks death penalty against Boston Marathon bombing suspect

Suspect number 2 (left) and suspect number 1 (right). SOURCE: FBI.gov

Federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 20-year-old suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, which killed three people and seriously wounded more than 200.  

“After consideration of the relevant facts, the applicable regulations and the submissions made by the defendant’s counsel, I have determined that the United States will seek the death penalty in this matter. The nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm compel this decision,” according to a statement released by Attorney General Eric Holder.

Read more: Feds cite public safety exception for temporarily revoking Tsarnaev’s Miranda rights

Carmen Ortiz, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, confirmed that a notice of intent to seek the death penalty has been filed with the court.

“We support this decision and the trial team is prepared to move forward with the prosecution,” said Ortiz. “The process by which this decision was made is confidential, and I will not comment further about that process other than to say that it entailed a careful and detailed consideration of the particular facts and circumstances of this case.”

Read more: Timeline of the Boston Marathon bombings & the Watertown manhunt

Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, are accused of setting off two pressure cooker bombs near the marathon’s finish line last April. Martin Richard, 8, of Dorchester; Krystle Campbell, 29, of Medford; and Lu Lingzi, 23, a Chinese graduate student at Boston University were killed in the blasts. About 200 people were wounded, many requiring amputation.

The brothers also allegedly killed MIT police officer Sean Collier as they tried to flee Cambridge, triggering a massive manhunt that shut down the cities of Boston, Cambridge, and Watertown in the days after the bombing. Tamerlan died in a police shootout, and Dzhokhar was wounded but later captured alive in Watertown.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was charged with 30 counts of which 17, including the use of weapons of mass destruction and bombing in a public place resulting in death, carry the death penalty upon conviction.

In court documents, prosecutors cited 17 “aggravating” factors to justify seeking capital punishment against Tsarnaev, including: the “heinous, cruel and depraved” nature of the crime; the “substantial planning and premeditation” used to carry out the bombings; the targeting Boston Marathon, “an iconic event that draws large crowds of men, women and children to its final stretch, making it especially susceptible to the act and effects of terrorism”; and Tsarnaev’s “lack of remorse”.

Notably, the prosecutors also cited “betrayal of the United States” as a factor in seeking the death penalty against Tsarnaev. The Tsarnaevs are ethnic Chechens from Kyrgzystan who received asylum to enter the United States. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev “obtained citizenship and enjoyed the freedoms of a United States citizen; and then betrayed his allegiance to the United States by killing and maiming people in the United States,” according to the court filing.

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