Boston Bomber Sentencing: Hank Brennan, Boston Legal Scholar, Explains the Death Penalty Phase

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is set to begin the sentencing phase of his trial. To understand the jury's responsibilities, Hank Brennan, former Boston prosecutor and current defense attorney in the appeal for notorious mobster James "Whitey" Bulger agreed to explain.

Federal Death Penalty Act

The next phase of the United States v. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial is what is commonly called the "death penalty phase." In Federal Court the procedure has been codified and is known as the Federal Death Penalty Act (FDPA). This statue can be found at U.S. Code Title 18, Part II c.228.  

The jury will consider both aggravating and mitigating circumstances relative to the qualifying convictions.

A qualifying conviction is an indictment (often called a charge) that the defendant was found guilty for which qualifies for the penalty of death. Not all convictions qualify for the death penalty.  

The prosecution will call witnesses, primarily victims or family members of victims.  The witnesses have an opportunity to emote and may testify to the impact inflicted upon them by the defendant's acts or they may read pre-written impact statements describing the physical, emotional, and financial impact caused by the defendant's crimes.

The defense may also introduce witnesses to attempt to demonstrate any relevant mitigating factor on behalf of the defendant. After considering the evidence the jury decides whether death should be imposed. If the jury chooses that death should not be imposed, the judge will impose a sentence that will inevitably be a life sentence without parole.  

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors are found in U.S. Code Title 18, Part II c.228  § 3592.

Mitigating factors include impaired capacity, duress, being a minor participant, no prior criminal record, equally or more culpable co-defendant, and other factors including the defendant's past character.  

Aggravating factors are numerous and include whether death occurred during the commission of another crime, a grave risk of death to additional persons, if the offense was committed in an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner in that it involved torture or serious physical abuse to the victim, substantial planning and premeditation to cause the death of a person or commit an act of terrorism, the particular vulnerability of the victim due to old age, youth, or infirmity, and whether the defendant intentionally killed or attempted to kill more than one person in a single criminal episode.

Jury Determines Aggravating and Mitigating Factors

The jury's must return special finding identifying any aggravating factors. All jurors must unanimously agree for any aggravating factor to be deemed established.

A finding of any mitigating factor, however, may be made by 1 or more members of the jury. Upon a finding of a mitigating factor by at least one member of the jury, the factor is deemed established.

The jury will consider whether all the aggravating factor or factors found to exist sufficiently outweigh all the mitigating factor or factors found to exist to justify a sentence of death, or, in the absence of a mitigating factor, whether the aggravating factor or factors alone are sufficient to justify a sentence of death. The jury will then recommend whether the defendant should be sentenced to death, to life imprisonment without possibility of release or some other lesser sentence.

A recommendation to sentence to death must be by a unanimous vote.

Haute Tease

  • Hurricane Irma Barrels Down on Florida Coast; Mandatory Evacs; Obliterates Caribbean; 20 Dead

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Hurricane Irma, the strongest Atlantic storm ever recorded, has caused an unprecedented precaution measure with Florida's Governor Rick Scott issuing a mandatory evacuation order for more than 5.6 million residents which account to nearly 25 percent of the state's population.

     
  • POP VEGAS, Showcasing Pop-Up Exhibitions, Opens Winter 2019

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Pop Vegas, the brand-new, trailblazing exhibition space will open at The LINQ Promenade, the open-air entertainment, dining and retail district located at the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. Opening date and first exhibition to be announced shortly.

     
  • Dyson Racing Team Bentley To Race Second Continental Gt3 In Pirelli World Challenge

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    (Poughkeepsie, NY / Herndon, VA)  Dyson Racing Team Bentley announces a second Continental GT3 will enter the Pirelli World Challenge beginning with this weekend’s Round 13 and 14 races. Bentley Boy Guy Smith will pilot the number 88 car in a double header race weekend at Sonoma Raceway on Saturday, August 23 and Sunday, August 24.

     
  • Escaping Winter In Balmy Bermuda

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A portrait of a young Queen Elizabeth II gazes over all who pass through security at Bermuda's LF Wade International Airport, a royal welcome for visitors to Britain's oldest overseas territory in a room that wouldn't look out of place in an English stately manor.

     
  • Stretch Mark Solutions - What Can Be Done Safely?

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    In our modern age we, an evolved people, know that no person has a perfect body, and even supermodels yes, the bikini models you see in Sports Illustrated and Victoria's Secret, have lines, blemishes and even stretch marks.

     
  • Point and Shoot: The 10 Best Cameras for Summer Travel

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    From graduations and senior trips to vacations and backyard barbecues, summer is the time when memories are made — and recorded. The best cameras for summer travel are light, functional and, of course, affordable.  

  • Money News: Bull Markets Return; American, Europe, Asian Markets Close Up

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The DOW Jones Industrial Average pitched and rallied throughout the week as did the top ten watched markets with nearly all managing to get up under September’s heavy losses and run with the bull earning solid gains across the board.

     
  • Nelson Mandela, Anti-Apartheid Leader, Freedom Fighter, Dies at 95

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Nelson Mandela, the first African President of South Africa and life long anti-apartheid freedom fighter, has died in Johannesburg, South Africa from age related illnesses that had him repeatedly in the hospital throughout much of 2013. He was 95.

     
  • HL London: The Underground Music Scene Presents SeaWitches

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Based in Liverpool, Jo Herring and Laura Caldwell met in 2007 through friends; a meeting that resulted in an explosion of creativity where songwriting, musicianship and visual art collided to create SeaWitches.

     
  • Europe’s Newest Royal - Ethereal Carolina Divine Paraiba flawless at 191.87 Carats

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The rarest gemstone in the world, the Ethereal Carolina Divine Paraiba, owned by Canadian billionaire, Vincent Boucher of Billionaire Business Enterprises and has been quietly making its global debut as it travels to only the most exquisite showings and galleries in preparation for auction.

     
  • Extreme Cold Arrives Early for Most of the Nation

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A Polar Vortex, fueled by the remnant of Super Typhoon Nuri, a bomb cyclone, is pushing deeply frigid air into the lower forty-eight as far south as Tennessee with mid-westerners experiencing some of the coldest pre-thanksgiving temperatures in recent history.

     
  • Victoria Chow, Hong Kong Hottest Wine and Spirits Entrepreneur, Launches The Woods' Annex (CHI/ENG)

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Victoria Chow, Hong Kong’s hottest Wine and Spirits entrepreneur, is launching her latest collection of spirits at The Woods' Annex, in Soho Hong Kong. No stranger to the spirits industry, The Woods' Annex is her third high end libation establishment. 

 

Login Form