Bostonia is published in print three times a year and updated weekly on the web.
Dzhokar Tsarnaev, one of the two men accused of carrying out last April’s Boston Marathon bombings, was back in the news recently after a federal judge announced that he had set a trial date of November 3 in the case.
The 20-year-old Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges for masterminding the bombings that killed 3 people—among them BU graduate student Lu Lingzi (GRS’13)—and injured more than 260. The second man, Tsarnaev’s brother, Tamerlan, was killed four days after the bombings.
Late last month, federal prosecutors announced that they would seek the death penalty against Tsarnaev. Citing the alleged bomber’s lack of remorse, the age of one of the victim’s (eight-year-old Martin Richard), and the “heinous, cruel, and depraved manner” of the attacks, the US Department of Justice said that the death penalty was warranted.
While Massachusetts law does not allow the death penalty, Tsarnaev could be executed because the charges against him are federal charges brought by a federal court. If he is convicted at the end of his trial in November, a separate sentencing trial—lasting up to two months—would follow.
Despite the severity of his alleged crimes, news that prosecutors would seek the death penalty for Tsarnaev has divided Massachusetts residents. A Boston Globe poll taken in September, before prosecutors had announced their decision, found that 57 percent favored a life sentence for Tsarnaev, with just 33 percent voicing support for the death penalty.
“YouSpeak” asks: “Should Dzokhar Tsarnaev receive the death penalty?”