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

  • Winners Announced For Prestigious Academy Nicholl Fellowships

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Four individual writers and one writing team have been selected as winners of the 2013 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition.  Each winner will receive a $35,000 prize, the first installment of which will be distributed at an awards presentation on Thursday, November 7, at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.                                            

     
  • Kino Lorber Acquires The Documentary Bugs For Theatrical Releases In The US

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Kino Lorber has acquired all US rights to BUGS, a documentary produced by Danish powerhouse Sigrid Dyekjær, of Danish Documentary, investigating the next big food trend: edible insects. Reviewers praised the film after its world premiere at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival.  

  • Academy Reveals 2015 Student Academy Award® Winners; All Winning Films Now Eligible For OSCARS®

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Academy has voted fifteen students as winners of the 42nd Student Academy Awards competition. The Academy received a record number of entries this year which were voted upon by a record number of Academy members.  

  • Money News Asia: SESAMi Gives Singapore Businesses a Trade Finance Boost

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    SESAMi, South‐East Asia’s largest e‐procurement platform, touches the lives of over 15,000 small businesses and 5,000 large buyers around the globe each year. The firm processed SGD 1.8 billion worth of e‐invoices in the last 12 months, a figure that has grown steadily 14% year‐on‐year since its inception in September 1999.

     
  • Woody Allen Announces The Full Cast Of His Still Untitled Latest Film

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Woody Allen officially revealed the full cast of his new untitled feature film. Jude Law, Diego Luna, and Liev Schreiber join Timothée Chalamet, Elle Fanning, and Selena Gomez who were previously announced.

Crime

  • Two Majors Cities Hit With Mass Shooting Scares in One Day

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Three days after a TSA agent was killed at LAX during a Mass Shooting, the Westfield Garden State Mall in Paramus, New Jersey and Central Connecticut State University Campus were both targeted by deranged individuals.

     
  • 18 Penn State “Brothers” Arrested in Fraternity Murder

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Eighteen Beta Theta Pi Alpha Upsilon Fraternity brothers at Penn State University, still synonymous with pedophile cover up of football Coach Jerry Sandusky, have been arrested in the shocking hazing death of Timothy Piazza, a freshman pledge, during the annual Rush Week.

     
  • Alpine High School Active Shooter Story Unfolds Differently; Officer Involved Shooting Wounds One

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A freshman girl in West Texas committed suicide with a single self-inflicted gunshot this week after wounding a fellow female student at Alpine High School after the directed incident escalated resulting in an officer involved shooting of a fellow first responder.

     
  • NYPD Solve Baby Hope Cold Case

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    NYPD Detectives, for twenty-two years, never rested in the determination to bring justice to a little girl found dead, badly beaten and sexually assaulted, in an ice cooler on the Henry Hudson Parkway.

     
  • People Exclusive: Husband of Murdered Texas Fitness Instructor Shares Theory on Who Killed His Wife: 'It Had to Be Someone She Knew'

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Brandon Bevers, the husband of a Texas fitness instructor who was found dead inside a church last month just before she was to teach an early morning class, believes his wife knew her killer.

Theatre, Music, Books

  • Adventures on the Queen Mary Review - Stunning, Beautiful, A Must Have

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Adventures on the Queen Mary, by Dave Wooders with James Radford, a book for those who have dreamed of traveling the high seas, in all the style of a bygone era and the opulence of the Queens luxury.

     
  • Celebrities Pay Tribute to Jerry and Elaine Orbach During Launch of Remember How I Love You

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Celebrities, family and friends of the late Jerry and Elaine Orbach gathered recently, at The Snapple Theater Center in Manhattan’s Theater District, to honor them with readings from their newly released book, “Remember How I Love You - Love Letters From An Extraordinary Marriage.”

     
  • Jayne Avaunt, Canada's Newest Pop Sensation, Hits U.S. Airwaves

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Jayne Avaunt, Canada’s newest pop sensation, is now blazing the Americans musical charts with her hit single, Hear Me. Hear Jayne out with Hear Me,and see what bloggers are talking about.

     
  • Broadway's Best: Celebrating the Music of Ron Abel

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Birdland, the legendary Manhattan Jazz Club, played host for two nights only to celebrate, one of Broadway's best and Hollywood's hottest talents, composer and musical genius Ron Abel.

     
  • The Orphan Keeper Review – Astounding, Inspirational, Remarkable

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Orphan Keeper, from Shadow Mountain Publishing, tells an epic story of a boy kidnapped from India, sold to an orphanage and adopted to the United States over 8,000 miles away and the miracle that would follow.