Guilty, but Boston Bomber is unlikely to face execution

By Finn Bunting

Despite prosecutors attempts, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is unlikely to be sentenced to death, even though jurors found him guilty on all 30 counts - with 17 capital charges, carrying a possible death penalty. 

Tsarnaev, along with brother Tamerlan, exploded two devices on April 15, 2013, causing the deaths of three people and injuries to an estimated 264 others. The brothers escaped and allegedly killed a police officer before a large-scale manhunt ended with Tamerlan’s death and Dzhokhar’s capture. 

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Tsarnaev: "If not in this case, then when?" former federal prosecutor Allison Burroughs told CNN. But some legal experts are saying this would be difficult in liberal Boston, which also has a large Catholic community (Pope Francis opposes capital punishment).

In a poll taken in 2013, 57 per cent of respondents supported a life sentence, compared to 33 per cent in support of the death penalty for Tsarnaev. This view is echoed by a Boston Globe editorial

In a Boston Herald article, University of Calif­ornia Berkeley professor Frank Zimring is quoted as saying: “There are a lot of people who would want him to die, of course, but the question of killing as part of the rebuilding of Boston ... that’s going to be a very tough sell.”

Another important factor is that to impose the death penalty, the jury must be unanimous in its decision – and getting all 12 jurors to agree on a death sentence for Tsarnaev will be difficult for the prosecution.

Speaking to CNN, Lillian Campbell, who lost her granddaughter Krystle Campbell, said: "When they came out with this part about the death sentence ... I said, well, I don't really care what they do with them. Because whatever they do, it's not going to bring her back … I’ll never forget her, ever, no matter how much they say. Or what they do with the guy who did it. So I wouldn't wish anyone dead. I wouldn't."