The United States Department of Justice is urging the Supreme Court to reinstate the death penalty sentences for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after they were thrown out by a lower court last July.
CBS News reports Acting Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar filed a brief with the Supreme Court on Monday (June 14) arguing against the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was wrong to vacate the capital sentences recommended by a federal jury in relation to "one of the most important terrorism prosecutions in our nation's history" and called for the nation's highest court to reverse the decision.
"[T]he jury carefully considered each of respondent's crimes and determined that capital punishment was warranted for the horrors that he personally inflicted — setting down a shrapnel bomb in a crowd and detonating it, killing a child and a promising young student, and consigning several others 'to a lifetime of unimaginable suffering,'" Prelogar wrote in the filing via CBS News. "That determination by 12 conscientious jurors deserves respect and reinstatement by this court."
In March, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case involving Tsarnaev after a three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit tossed out capital sentences for the 27-year-old due to issues with jurors' pretrial media exposure in the highly publicized case.
Former President Donald Trump's administration asked justices to review the ruling in October 2020, with then-Attorney General William Barr confirming federal prosecutors would continue to pursue the death penalty, but it was unclear whether the Justice Department of President Joe Biden, who is opposed to the death penalty, would continue pursuing capital sentences.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden "has grave concerns" about capital punishment in March, but did not provide additional details on the administration's death penalty policy.
The 2013 bombing killed three people and injured more than 260 after two pressure cooker bombs were set off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Tsarnaev's older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was also a suspect in the bombing, was killed during a shooting with police three days later.
Tsarnaev was convicted and initially sentenced to death, but the ruling was overturned last July after a three-judge panel ruled that the trial judge "fell short" while screening the jury for potential biases, a decision that has since been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.