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

  • Who Gets What - Ranking The Countries That Receive the Most Foreign Aid From the U.S.

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The United States’ role abroad remains a contentious issue in politics and elections. From the muscular foreign policy efforts, in the modern era of former President Woodrow Wilson ’s to the flabby and soft efforts of the current administration.  

  • The Boulders Resort and Golden Door Spa - Luxurious, Soothing, Carefree Comfort

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Boulders Resort and Golden Door Spa, a Waldorf Astoria Property, in Carefree, Arizona, provides carefree comfort and luxurious accommodations in the foothills of the Sonoran Desert.

     
  • LWH Hotels Offers “Season Of Giving” Specials For The Holidays

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    LOS ANGELES — Nearly 40 hotels that are part of the LWH Hotels collection are providing holiday travelers special amenities, gifts and room packages to make travel this holiday season more enjoyable. 

     
  • AUDREY from Manchego Pictures: A Sure Winner for the Hopeful Romantic

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    AUDREY, a touching romantic comedy, from Manchego Pictures, is slated to open early 2013 and already has buzz for its charming take on the emotional roller coaster of contemporary dating as boy meets girl suffering from relationship neurosis.

     
  • Has the Once Golden BRAVO NETWORK Lost Its Luster?

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Despite an eight-year relationship that somehow managed to achieve monogamy for most of 2010, it appears that my hot and heavy affair with the Bravo Network might finally have run its course. A famous New Englander once said, “Nothing gold can stay,” and I guess deep down I always suspected that this would happen, but that doesn’t relieve the sting, or worse, the disillusionment.

     
  • HL Paris Fashion Week Coverage: Celia Kritharioti Spring/Summer 2017 Couture Collection – The Flowers of Good

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Celia Kritharioti, one of the most celebrated fashion designers in Greece, showcased her Spring/Summer 2017 Collection "The Flowers of Good," during Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week held at the legendary Ritz Hotel.

     
  • Photos: More than 100 Passengers Injured In Brooklyn LIRR Commuter Train Derailment

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    More than 100 passengers were injured, none life threatening, when the first two cars of the Long Island Railroad Commuter train failed to stop derailing at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal Station, near the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn.

     
  • Everlast, World Leader in Boxing Gear, Partners with PIQ to Launch the Ultimate Boxing Wearable at CES: [Sands, Hall A-D, booth 44727]

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    PIQ Sport Intelligence, a leading French start-up in sports Wearables, and Everlast, the leading brand in boxing, announced a new partnership at the Consumer Electronics Show that will see the two companies combine their expertise.

     
  • Replicas Review - Intriguing Storyline, Advanced Science Sells This Sleeper

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Replicas, from Di Bonaventura Pictures and Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, brings to the screen the collision of science verses humanity when the cruelty of life delivers an incapacitating blow forcing the ultimate decision between life and death.

     
  • The Wrecking Crew Review - A Fun, Captivating, Magical Music Trip

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Wrecking Crew, from Magnolia Pictures and Lunchbox Films, presents a trip back in musical time to the beginning of the California sound, the music which defined a generation and spawned peace, love and groovin’ freedom.

     
  • Dancing With The Stars Derek Hough Taps Cal Phil For Worldwide Symphonic Singing Debut

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Derek Hough joins Cal Phil for Dance Fever where he will make his symphonic signing debut as well as will dance! The award-winning dancer, Emmy nominated choreographer, musician and Dancing With The Stars phenom Derek Hough will join Maestro Victor Vener and the California Philharmonic.

     
  • MIB 3: A Laugh Out Loud Trip Back In Time from Director Barry Sonnenfeld

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Men in Black 3, a high speed, hi-jinks, trip back in time alien adventure, from Sony Pictures Entertainment/Columbia Films and Amblin Entertainment recently held its Los Angeles media screening in Century City, California.

     
  • Istanbul Airport Twin Blasts: 41 Dead; 239 Injured

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Twin bomb blasts denoted at Istanbul Turkey’s Ataturk International airport after three suicide terrorists began firing shots into the crowded terminal killing 41 and injuring hundreds as the Islamic state terrorist organization has claimed responsibility.

     
  • Adrift Review - Four Stars For At Sea Survival Story

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Adrift, from STX Entertainment and Huayi Brothers, presents the true story of two strangers who through fate happen to meet in Fiji after each sailed around the world and together found love, beauty, adventure and unbelievable tragedy.

     
  • Five Dallas Police Officers Dead; Seven Others Injured in Peace March Ambush

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Five Dallas Police Officers have died and seven others injured in an ambush as a protest over the recurring use of excessive and deadly force against unarmed African Americans turned violent leaving a city and nation stunned.