Here's What Happens Next to Tsarnaev
He's now the 62nd person on federal death row
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 16, 2015 6:49 AM CDT
In this courtroom sketch, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev arrives in the courtroom at the Moakley Federal court house in the penalty phase of his trial in Boston.   (Jane Flavell Collins via AP)

(Newser) – Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death by lethal injection yesterday, making him the 62nd person on federal death row. But he won't be executed for years—maybe decades—as the appeals process runs its course. Here's the timeline:

  • Sentencing hearing: Judge George O'Toole Jr. will schedule a sentencing hearing to formally impose the sentence. Survivors of the bombing will be given a chance to give victim impact statements. Tsarnaev also will be allowed to speak if he chooses.
  • Prison assignment: The US Bureau of Prisons could send Tsarnaev to the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, which has a special unit for death row inmates and is where Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was executed.

  • Appeal process: Tsarnaev could spend years appealing his death sentence. Seventy-four people have been sentenced to death since the federal death penalty was reinstated in 1988, but only three have been executed (10 were removed from death row). Those 3 were McVeigh (2001), Juan Raul Garza (2001, for a triple drug murder), and Louis Jones (2013, for rape and murder).
  • Grounds for appeal: Tsarnaev's lawyers fought unsuccessfully to move his trial out of Massachusetts, where they argued there was too much of an emotional impact to find truly impartial jurors. The change-of-venue issue may be one of the grounds for appeal. The Guardian presents a second: that the defense "was given insufficient time to mount a full argument in mitigation that might have convinced the jury to spare Tsarnaev" from death. And the Boston Globe notes that if those lines of appeal fail, he could appeal on more fundamental grounds, such as whether the death penalty is constitutional in the first place.
  • If he is executed: He'd join the list of the 340 inmates executed by the feds since 1790.