Don't Execute Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
Why some think the death penalty is misguided in this case
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2015 12:14 PM CDT
In this courtroom sketch, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, second from left, is depicted standing with his defense attorneys William Fick, left, Judy Clarke, and David Bruck.   (AP Photo/Jane Flavell Collins)

(Newser) – If jurors agree that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev deserves the death penalty when the sentencing phase of his trial begins next week, he shouldn't hold out hope of a reprieve from the governor. Charlie Baker supports execution in this case, reports MassLive. "To this day, I continue to be amazed that somebody could stand there for four minutes in front of Martin Richard and place that device right next to him," he says, referring to the 8-year-old boy killed in the bombings. But the sentiment isn't unanimous. Some examples:

  • Enough doubt: Tsarnaev should spend the rest of his life in prison, but "his defense has already made a good case that he does not meet the exceptionally high standards for a federal execution," declares a Boston Globe editorial. At the time of the bombings, he was a 19-year-old heavy drug user, and while he had no criminal record, he did have a dominant, extremist older brother. Taken as a whole, that's enough to "plant seeds of doubt."

  • Creating a martyr: "A sentence of death will likely transform Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, an amateur terrorist, into a martyr for all those here and abroad who hate America," writes Northeastern law professor James Alan Fox in USA Today. "Better that he drift off into the obscurity of some dark and distant prison cell without the continued news media focus that an execution would bring."
  • This isn't closure: Boston-area resident Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig once wanted Tsarnaev executed, but no more. "Doing so would protect no one and restore nothing, to him or anyone else," she writes at the New Republic. "It would, in fact, undo the possibility of his ever making any kind of amends to the lives he shattered, the families he crushed, the community he ruptured, the security and comfort he destroyed." He's only 21, and that's still a possibility.