A week after the 2015 Boston Marathon, the defense team for convicted bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will present its arguments in federal court on Monday in the last attempt to save the 21-year-old's life. Tsarnaev was found guilty earlier this month of using explosives that killed three people and injured more than 260 others at the 2013 Boston Marathon; he was also found guilty of the shooting death of MIT officer Sean Collier. Convicted on 30 counts, the young Tsarnaev now faces the death penalty unless his defense attorneys can sway the jury to spare his life.
Beginning on Monday, Judy Clarke — a longtime criminal defense attorney who has represented "Unabomber"Ted Kaczynski and Susan Smith — and her defense team will attempt to humanize Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen-turned-American citizen who attorneys say was largely under the influence of his older brother, Tamerlan. The older Tsarnaev was also a suspect in the 2013 bombings, and died several days later during a firefight with police officers.
It's been speculated that the late Tamerlan will have a great role in the sentencing phase of the trial of his younger brother, who survived the firefight and hid for nearly 24 hours in a land-docked boat in Watertown, Massachusetts. When the bombings occurred on April 15, 2013, Tsarnaev was just 19 years old — a college kid who the defense may claim was "radicalized" by his older brother.
During the penalty phase of the trial, Clarke admitted, "it was him," sparing no doubt about Tsarnaev's guilt. However, her team has attempted to counter the narrative laid forth by the prosecution, which depicted Tsarnaev as an extremist.
For the penalty phase, the defense called just four witnesses to the stand. Starting on Monday, the defense will have two weeks to save their client from the death penalty and secure a life imprisonment sentence. The list of witnesses has been kept under seal, so little is known at this time who the defense will call to the stand.
According to The New York Times, the prosecution called 17 witnesses during its round of the sentencing phase last week. The prosecution took just three days — a stark contrast from the several weeks they used to make their case and convict Tsarnaev on all 30 counts during the guilt phase of the trial.
Unidentified members of the Tsarnaev family arrived in the Boston area last Thursday, with media speculating that some family members will testify in the 21-year-old's defense. However, it's unclear at this time if Tsarnaev's family members will attend the trial and testify.
Members of the Tsarnaev originally checked in at a hotel in Revere, Massachusetts, a suburb just outside of Boston. According to WHDH News, the FBI moved the family to an undisclosed location because of the media frenzy and complaints from other hotel guests.
Fox25 News in Boston also reported that the Tsarnaev family allegedly traveled to Massachusetts on taxpayer funds. Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker told the news source, "It's a federal trial, it's a federal case, the feds ultimately need to make the decisions about this."
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