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Supreme Court of the United States
October 13, 2021, Argued; March 4, 2022, Decided
[*1030] Justice Thomas delivered the opinion of the Court.
On April 15, 2013, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev planted and detonated two homemade pressure-cooker bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The blasts [***8] hurled nails and metal debris into the assembled crowd, killing three while maiming and wounding hundreds. Three days later, the brothers murdered a campus police officer, carjacked a graduate student, and fired on police who had located them in the stolen vehicle. Dzhokhar attempted to flee in the vehicle but inadvertently killed Tamerlan by running him over. Dzhokhar was soon arrested and indicted.
A jury found Dzhokhar guilty of 30 federal crimes and recommended the death penalty for 6 of them. The District Court accordingly sentenced Dzhokhar to death. The Court of Appeals vacated the death sentence. We now reverse.
The Tsarnaev brothers immigrated to the United States in the early 2000s and lived in Massachusetts. Little more than a decade later, they were actively contemplating how to wage radical jihad. They downloaded and read al Qaeda propaganda, and, by December of 2012, began studying an al Qaeda guide to bomb making.
On April 15, 2013, the brothers went to the Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street. They each brought a backpack containing a homemade pressure-cooker bomb packed with explosives inside a layer of nails, BBs, and other metal scraps. [**148] Tamerlan left his [***9] backpack in a crowd of spectators and walked away. Dzhokhar stood with his backpack outside the Forum, a nearby restaurant where spectators watched the runners from the sidewalk and dining patio. For four minutes, Dzhokhar surveyed the crowd. After speaking with Tamerlan by phone, Dzhokhar left his backpack among the spectators. Tamerlan then detonated his bomb. While the crowd at the Forum looked toward the explosion, Dzhokhar walked the other way. After a few seconds, he detonated his bomb.
Each detonation sent fire and shrapnel in all directions. The blast from Tamerlan’s bomb shattered Krystle Campbell’s left femur and mutilated her legs. Though bystanders tried to save her, she bled to death on the sidewalk. Dzhokhar’s bomb ripped open the legs of Boston University [*1031] student Lingzi Lu. Rescuers tried to stem the bleeding by using a belt as a makeshift tourniquet. She too bled to death.
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142 S. Ct. 1024 *; 212 L. Ed. 2d 140 **; 2022 U.S. LEXIS 1327 ***; 29 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 131; 2022 WL 626692
UNITED STATES, PETITIONER v. DZHOKHAR A. TSARNAEV
Notice: The pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.
Prior History: [***1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIRST CIRCUIT
United States v. Tsarnaev, 968 F.3d 24, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 24226, 2020 WL 4381578 (1st Cir. Mass., July 31, 2020)
Tamerlan, district court, bombings, murders, court of appeals, mitigation, sentence, juror, prospective juror, death penalty, questions, mitigating evidence, probative value, confusing, killed, evidentiary, supervisory power, reliable, cases, media, abuse of discretion, voir dire, reasons, played, introduce evidence, exclude evidence, factors, courts, admit, sentencing proceeding
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