Supreme Court justices on Wednesday suggested they were ready to reinstate the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the two brothers involved in the devastating 2013 Boston Marathon bombing incident.
The justices, however, appeared to be torn along familiar ideological lines as they considered a federal appeals court decision that removed the death penalty. The decision was made due to errors made by the district court concerning the admissibility of a piece of evidence.
Boston Marathon Bomber's Death Sentence
Conservatives argued that they were faced with unreliable evidence that should not be presented to the jury. However, three liberal justices claimed that Tsarnaev should not receive the death penalty because his brother was responsible for leading the bombing attack.
In 2015, Tsarnaev was convicted in the deaths of Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard, Lingzi Lu, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier in the aftermath of the bombing. The horrific incident also injured hundreds of other people after the two suspects, Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, set off two makeshift shrapnel bombs near the finish line that left sidewalks riddled with BBs, nails, metal scraps, and glass fragments, CNN reported.
Deputy Solicitor General Eric Feigin exchanged arguments with nine justices who were convinced that Tsarnaev received a fair sentence. The officials discussed for nearly an hour, which was nearly double the time that the court alloted for the talks.
Feigin argued that after he watched videos of Tsarnaev by himself when he personally placed a shrapnel bomb behind a group of young children at the Boston Marathon, what he saw was a deliberate act. He said that the court of appeals should have left the unanimous recommendation of capital punishment stand.
Last year, however, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the suspect's sentencing was effectively tainted because the judge questioned jurors about pretrial publicity. This wrongly prevented them from hearing evidence of an alleged murder committed by Tamerlan in 2011, ABC News reported.
Responses of the Blasts' Survivors
The situation has received an array of responses from survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing incident. Robert Wheeler, a resident who just finished the race in 2013 when the bombs went off, ran to quickly help the injured people. He said that Tsarnaev getting joy out of life was a betrayal.
Another survivor, Marc Fucarile, was hit by the blast and lost his leg when the bomb exploded at the finish line. Last year, he expressed his discontent when a federal appeals court threw out the death penalty against the suspect.
Wheeler agreed to arguments that despite some believing Tamerlan was the mastermind behind the Boston Marathon bombing, Tsarnaev was also responsible for his own actions and involvement in the horrific crime. One resident, Melida Arrendondo, who was near the finish line with her husband Carlos, expressed concerns that reinstating the death penalty would only lead to more appeals and give Tsarnaev more media exposure.
Arrendondo opposed the death penalty on religious grounds but worried that another sentencing trial for the suspect would be too much. "People are trying to move on with their lives. That's pretty destructive, it brings you back," she said, CBS Local reported.