Federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Though Massachusetts does not allow the death penalty, Tsarnaev is facing federal charges including the alleged use of a weapon of mass destruction. "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," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. "The nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm compel this decision."
"The nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm compel this decision."
Only three people have been executed at a federal level since the death penalty was reinstated in 1988, reports the Associated Press. Though only three executions have occurred, the AP reports that 70 death penalty sentences have been imposed, with eight since lifted. Massachusetts hasn't allowed the death penalty since 1984.
Over 200 were wounded and three killed by the two explosions in Boston last April. Tsarnaev became the FBI's chief suspect following the blasts, and has been indicted on 30 counts to which he's pled not guilty. The AP reports that 17 of the 30 federal charges allow for the death penalty. A date has not yet been set for the trial.
Holder's push for the death penalty is not unexpected. The federal government initially placed two serious charges on Tsarnaev regarding the use of weapons of mass destruction, both of which carried the possibility of the death penalty. Though the decision to seek the death penalty was left up to Holder, the AP reports that he is personally opposed to it, but views using the sentence as part of his pledge to enforce US law.
It will require unanimous vote by a jury to deliver a sentence of capital punishment, and the AP reports that nearly twice as many juries elect to give a life sentence instead. Tsarnaev is also reportedly being represented by defense attorney Judy Clarke, who also represented the Olympic Park bomber and the Unabomber. In both cases, the AP reports that Clarke negotiated plea agreements, taking capital punishment off the table.