"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."

A federal judge overturning the 2013 Boston Marathon bomber’s death sentences.

  • Background: In 2015, then 21-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted of 30 counts by a federal jury for his involvement in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, which left three dead and more than 260 others wounded – many with permanent injures.
    • During the trial, Tsarnaev’s legal team argued he was not fully responsible because the plot was masterminded by his older brother, who died during a shootout with police in the aftermath of the bombing.
    • Although 17 of the 30 counts were punishable by death, the jury sentenced him to 6 death sentences and 11 life sentences.
    • During the appeal, Tsarnaev’s legal team argued he did not receive a fair trial because of juror bias and therefore, some of his convictions should be reversed and his death sentences vacated.
  • Why: The appeal was heard by a three-judge panel that ruled in Tsarnaev’s favor, reversing 3 convictions (one of which included a death sentence) and vacating 5 death sentences. They found the trial judge failed to impanel an impartial jury in the highly publicized trial, which was held in the city where the bombing took place.
    • The judges sent the case back to the lower court for a new penalty-phase trial. Expect this case to go on for many more years.
  • Big Picture: The decision comes just weeks after the federal government carried out its first three executions since 2003.