After not even two full days of deliberating, the jury of the Boston Marathon bombing trial reached a guilty verdict on all 30 charges, and the jury enters the "death penalty phase," as 17 of those charges carried the possibility of a death sentence. Convicted on death penalty charges of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, using a weapon of mass destruction, conspiracy to bomb a place of public use, bombing a place of public use resulting in death, use of firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death, and malicious destruction of property resulting in personal injury and death — the list goes on — when will Dzhokhar Tsarnaev be sentenced to either life in prison or death?
Since he was found guilty of charges that carry a possible sentence of the death penalty, Tsarnaev will be sentenced by the same jury who reached the verdict. According to Boston.com, now totally new arguments will be made to the same jury, which is made up of seven women and five men. The prosecution will present "aggravating factors" in an attempt to justify the death penalty, and then the defense will present "mitigating factors" to insist that the death penalty is not the right choice. Then the jury will reconvene to unanimously decide whether to sentence Tsarnaev to the death penalty or life in prison.
The sentencing phase could begin as early as next week, Boston.com reporter Hilary Sargent who was in the courtroom for the verdict says. But Judge George O'Toole said the exact timing is unclear.
So, it's going to take a while before his sentence is decided upon. For aggravating factors that the prosecution might cite when arguing for the death penalty, Boston.com and The Boston Globe report that those could include: the harm the bombing of the Boston Marathon caused, the nature of the crime, Tsarnaev's seemingly remorseless attitude, the intention behind the crime, the planning and premeditation, and the “heinous, cruel and depraved manner” in which the crimes were carried out.
On the other hand, though, Tsarnaev's lawyer, Judy Clarke, might be able to keep him from the death penalty, considering her track record. Clarke has been successful in avoiding the death penalty for her clients, including Unabomber Ted Kaczynski; Jared Loughner, the man who shot former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, injuring her and killing several others; and Susan Smith, who drowned her two children.
If the jury cannot unanimously decide on the death penalty, Tsarnaev will automatically receive life in prison without the possibility of parole. As The Boston Globe reports, the jurors must believe Tsarnaev knowingly committed the acts, and at least one of the prosecution's aggravating factors must be proved. Albert “Buzz” Scherr, a University of New Hampshire law professor, told the Globe that this death penalty phase process is required so that decisions aren't made on the basis of emotion.
Images: Getty Images (2)