Tsarnaev attorneys ask US court to declare death penalty unconstitutional
MOSCOW, May 8 (RAPSI, Oleg Panfilov) - Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzokhar Tsarnaev’s legal team asked US court to “strike death penalty as potential punishment” for criminals and rule it out as unconstitutional, according to the court’s documents obtained by RAPSI.
Tsarnaev’s attorneys want a federal judge to declare Death Penalty Act, 18 U.S.C §§ 3591-3599 unconstitutional on several grounds, including Fifth (right to be protected from government authority abuse) and Eighth (right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishments) Amendments of the United States Constitution.
Defense team pointed out that infrequency and unequal racial and geographical distribution of death penalty sentences imposed by US courts make death penalty unusual and cruel punishment. Team cited Furman v. Georgia case which reads that capital punishment “is cruel and usual in the same way that being struck by lightning is cruel and unusual.”
Other arguments made by attorneys include growing revulsion to the executions among Americans, growing isolation of the United States as an executing nation and sharp decline of death sentences over the country with more and more states abolishing death penalties as a punishment.
On the afternoon of April 15, 2013, two explosions occurred near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. IEDs devised from pressure cookers, low explosive powder, shrapnel, adhesive, and other materials were hidden in backpacks that were then placed near metal barricades in areas packed with hundreds of spectators.
Tsarnaev was arrested following a dramatic manhunt during which his brother and co-suspect Tamerlan was killed, as was MIT Police Officer Sean Collier. Tsarnaev was charged on April 21 with the use of a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property resulting in death.
US prosecutors filed their notice of intent to pursue the death penalty against Tsarnaev on January 30, 2014. The government is seeking the death penalty for Tsarnaev, whose trial is to begin on November 3. He could face the death penalty if convicted.
Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 criminal counts.