Updated: 9:57 AM PDT, March 23, 2021
The Supreme Court said Monday it would review a federal appeals court ruling that overturned the death sentence of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of two brothers who carried out the 2013 massacre.
The nation’s high court will reconsider a decision made last year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, which upheld Tsarnaev’s convictions on 27 counts, but threw out the death penalty, saying the trial court hadn’t interrogated jurors enough about their viewing of pretrial publicity and erred in excluding evidence about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the defendant’s older brother and accomplice, who died following a shootout with police.
Then-Attorney General William Barr had vowed to appeal that decision. Government lawyers said prosecutors would have to retry the trial’s penalty phase and force victims to testify all over again if the high court did not take action in the case.
Bombs placed at the finish line of the famed marathon killed three people, injured 260, many of them drastically and resulted in 17 people losing limbs. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer was killed during a citywide manhunt for the two brothers.
The appeals court ruling also said the trial judge mistakenly excluded evidence that authorities said implicated Tamerlan Tsarnaev in other killings. Defense attorneys claimed that evidence could have lessened his brother’s sentence by showing Tamerlan could coerce others into violent behavior.