Attorney General William Barr on Thursday said the Justice Department will seek to reinstate a death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the man convicted of carrying out the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, following a court’s ruling last month that tossed Tsarnaev’s death sentence.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Barr said the DOJ plans to appeal the 1st U.S. Circuit Court’s July ruling that ordered a new trial to determine whether Tsarnaev should be executed for the attack that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.
“We will do whatever’s necessary,” Barr said. “We will take it up to the Supreme Court and we will continue to pursue the death penalty.”
A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court found that the judge who oversaw the 2015 trial did not adequately question potential jurors about what they had read or heard about the highly publicized case.
The defense acknowledged that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, carried out the attack on April 15, 2013, but sought to portray his brother as the radicalized mastermind who they said lured his impressionable younger brother into violence.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died following a gunfight with police and being run over by his brother as he fled. Police captured a wounded Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hours later in the Boston suburb of Watertown, where he was hiding in a boat parked in a backyard.
Tsarnaev, now 27, was convicted of all 30 charges against him, including conspiracy and use of a weapon of mass destruction and the killing of an MIT police officer during the Tsarnaev brothers’ getaway attempt. The appeals court upheld all but a few of his convictions.
Killed in the bombing were Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old Boston University graduate student from China; Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant manager from Medford; and 8-year-old Martin Richard, who had gone to watch the marathon with his family. MIT police officer Sean Collier was shot to death in his cruiser days later.
Describing media attention in the case as “unrivaled in American legal history,” the appeals court said U.S. District Judge George O’Toole fell short in running a jury selection process “sufficient to identify prejudice.”
The 1st Circuit Court found that O’Toole erred in refusing to let the defense tell jurors about evidence tying Tamerlan Tsarnaev to the killings of three people in the Boston suburb of Waltham in 2011.
“If the judge had admitted the Waltham evidence — evidence that shows (like no other) that Tamerlan was predisposed to religiously-inspired brutality before the bombings and before Dzhokhar’s radicalization — the defense could have more forcefully rebutted the government’s claim that the brothers had a ‘partnership of equals,'” Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson wrote in the ruling.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.