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Tuesday, July 16, 2024 | Back issues
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Marathon Bomber Tsarnaev Loses Retrial Bid

BOSTON (CN) - Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev must pay $101 million in restitution to his victims, and he cannot have a new trial, a federal judge ruled.

Tsarnaev, 22, was found guilty in June 2015 on 30 counts of crimes related to the use of a weapon of mass destruction when he, along with his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, detonated a pair of bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon.

The explosion killed Krystle Campbel, Lu Lingzi and Martin Richard, while maiming others, among hundreds of injuries. Tsarnaev was also found guilty of killing MIT Officer Sean Collier, among other crimes he and his brother committed while trying to escape arrest.

Tamerlan was killed in a firefight with authorities, and Dzhokhar now faces the death penalty by lethal injection.

In his bid for a new trial, Tsarnaev argued that it was inappropriate to try him in Boston, given the amount of media coverage in the city of the bombing, along with coverage of anniversaries of the crime.

U.S. District Judge George O'Toole rejected this argument in a 37-page decision Friday and in a separate order set $101 million in restitution for the victims and their families.

"The defendant relies heavily on local marathon-related media coverage," the ruling states. "It is certainly true that the local media gave substantial coverage to the anniversary of the bombings, its victims, and the 2015 marathon. What the defendant disregards, however, is the national-and international - interest in those same events and people. This was not a crime that was unknown outside of Boston."

Finding that the Boston venue did not sway sentencing, O'Toole pointed to polls showing that only about one in three Boston-area residents favored the death penalty.

The Martin family, whose 8-year-old son died in the blast, were among those opposed to executing Tsarnaev, and local media widely publicized their stance.

Defense attorneys also failed to show that Tsarnaev's convictions under Section 924 of Title 18 were "crimes of violence,"

This past June, in Johnson v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court found a portion of the Armed Career Criminal Act unconstitutionally vague.

O'Toole rejected this argument, calling the defense's reading of the Supreme Court decision overly broad, considering that the prosecution relied on different clause than what the Supreme Court examined.

"Because the § 924(e) residual clause played no role in the defendant's sentence in this case, the court's invalidation of that residual clause has no direct applicability here," O'Toole wrote.

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