A federal appeals court overturned Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s death sentence in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, saying the trial judge did not adequately screen jurors for potential biases, reports the Associated Press. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ordered a new penalty-phase trial on whether the 27-year-old Tsarnaev should be executed for the attack that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others. “But make no mistake: Dzhokhar will spend his remaining days locked up in prison, with the only matter remaining being whether he will die by execution,” said Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson. Tsarnaev attorney David Patton said, “It is now up to the government to determine whether to put the victims and Boston through a second trial, or to allow closure to this terrible tragedy by permitting a sentence of life without the possibility of release.”
Krystle Campbell, mother of a 29-year-old killed in the attack, told the Boston Globe, “It’s just terrible that he’s allowed to live his life. It’s unfair. He didn’t wake up one morning and decide to do what he did. He planned it out. He did a vicious, ugly thing.” Tsarnaev’s lawyers acknowledged that he and his older brother, Tamerlan, set off the two bombs at the marathon finish line. They argued that Dzhokar Tsarnaev is less culpable than his brother, who they said was the mastermind. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a gun battle with police a few days after the bombing. Dzhokar Tsarnaev is in a supermax prison in Florence, Co. Tsarnaev’s attorneys cited social media posts from two jurors suggesting they harbored strong opinions before the 2015 trial started. The appeals court said trial judge George O’Toole didn’t sufficiently dig into what jurors had read or heard about the case.