By Ford Fischer, Special Report College Associate
“We were there. We lived it. The defendant murdered our 8-year-old son, maimed our 7-year-old daughter, and stole part of our soul,” write Bill and Denise Richard in the Boston Globe. Despite the loss of one child and the injury of another, they insist that they do not want the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 counts related to the bombibg and subsequent violence when he and his brother, Tamerlan, tried to escape. Many of these federal charges carry a maximum sentence of death. With the second phase of the trial beginning soon, the defense will present jurors with evidence that Tamerlan’s influence over Dzhokhar was responsible for the crimes, and that he should only be sentenced to life in prison. The government will argue that the crimes were heinous and that Dzhokar was remorseless.
However, the Richards want to see the death penalty taken off the table altogether. “We urge the Department of Justice to bring the case to a close,” they write. “We are in favor of and would support the Department of Justice in taking the death penalty off the table in exchange for the defendant spending the rest of his life in prison without any possibility of release and waiving all of his rights to appeal.”
Death penalty cases tend to be followed by years of appeals, costs, and strenuous legal processes. The family believes that this would keep the defendant in the spotlight and make it impossible to begin healing. “We believe that now is the time to turn the page, end the anguish, and look toward a better future — for us, for Boston, and for the country.”
Massachusetts residents are overwhelmingly against the death penalty. In the case of Tsarnaev specifically, one poll says that only 26 % of Bostonians want to see him executed.
The death penalty was abolished in Massachusetts in 1984 and hasn’t been used since 1947. However, the sentence is possible in this case because the charges are brought federally.
What do you think? Should Tsarnaev receive the death penalty or life in prison?