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

  • Money News: US Markets Rally, Asian Markets Struggle

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The three major U.S. Markets, Dow Jones Industrial Average, NASDAQ and S&P 500, rallied over the past week recovering slightly from the melt down felt in the ten top world markets over the past week, the Russell 2000 stubbornly refused to rally and closed slightly down.

     
  • Laboratoire Fleur de Santé - Exceptional Skin Care Made from Love

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    "I knew that I could create something unique with Fleur de Santé, because my inspiration came from a place that was unlike any other." Those are the words of founder and CEO Mathias Tonnesson, when asked why he developed his premium skin care brand.

     
  • The Academy Explores Rwanda Film Industry with "Finding Hillywood" Screening In NYC

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Bpeace, the Business Council for Peace, will co-present a special screening of the 2013 documentary “Finding Hillywood,” which examines the budding film industry in Rwanda, on Monday, October 21, at 7 p.m. at the Academy Theater in New York City. 

     
  • Academy Relaunches Grants Program Applications Available Now

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Academy announced today the relaunch of its grants program, which provides financial support to qualifying film festivals, educational institutions and film scholars. Online applications are now being accepted for the 2016 FilmWatch, FilmCraft and Academy Film Scholars programs.  

  • IM Global Television Partners with Marvista Entertainment For Series Re-Invention Of “KING KONG”

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    MarVista Entertainment, a leading independent studio that produces, acquires and distributes premium film and television content, has partnered with IM Global Television, a joint venture between prolific independent studio IM Global, Chinese digital giant Tencent and Tang Media Partners, to develop, co-produce, and co-finance the tale of King Kong for series television.

Crime

  • Decorated Virginia State Police Trooper Murdered, Two Others Injured, in Random Shooting

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Trooper Chad P. Dermyer, who one year ago was receiving an accommodation from his superiors, was shot and killed at the Richmond Greyhound Station by an ex-con who opened fire, in the crowded terminal, after a brief verbal encounter.  

     
  • Girl, 16, Dead After Vicious Attack

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Amy Inita Francis-Joyner, 16, a sophomore at Howard High School of Technology, in Wilmington, Delaware, died Thursday morning after she was jumped in the girl’s restroom by two other sixteen year olds and beaten to near death over a boy.

     
  • Theater Shooter Arraigned; Gag Order Issued

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Accused theater Shooter, James Holmes, was arraigned this week in Aurora, Colorado for the killing rampage that began during the opening screening of the Warner Bros film, "The Dark Knight Rises."

     
  • People Exclusive: Inside the Leadership of the Word of Life Church: Is Tiffanie Irwin Running a Killer Cult

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The residents of the sleepy hamlet of Chadwicks, New York, had long suspected there was something different about the Word of Life Christian Church – even before two teenage brothers were savagely beaten after over a dozen hours inside the church's sanctuary room, according to police.

     
  • Eight Dead, including Six Children, in Texas Home Invasion Mass Murder

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Six children and two adults have been found shot to death, execution style, inside a Harris County, Texas home after a twelve hour standoff that ended after hostage negotiators talked the suspect into surrendering.

Theatre, Music, Books

  • LA Lakers Great Tommy Hawkins Pens Reflections from the Soul

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Tommy Hawkins, former Los Angeles Lakers legend who helped shape the dynasty of today, recently launched his first ever narrative book of poetry.

     
  • Ten Top Gourmet Food Shops and Eating Establishments in the Latin Quarter Revealed

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Stepping into a Paris restaurant can be a formidable experience for any traveler. Not only do you have to make your wishes understood by a waiter who may or may not speak your language, but you must quickly learn how to adapt to local dining customs as well.

     
  • HL A&E Presents The Best Summer 2016 Music Festivals, by the Numbers

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Every year, thousands of people flock to church. The devotees pray in flower crowns and straw hats, fringe-laden vests and neon body paint. They are the congregation of music lovers, gathering from many different corners of the world to worship at the summer’s many music festivals.  

  • Tyler Hilton Secues London's Blue Soap To Arrange Interviews and Airplay for US Tour

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    We're delighted to be working with musician and One Tree Hill actor Tyler Hilton to secure airplay and arrange interviews ahead of his upcoming 30 city American tour. The focus tracks from the album and advance dates are enclosed! Support is hugely appreciated!

     
  • NYPD Green Book Review - Page Turning Detective Thriller

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    NYPD Green, a memoir from Luke Waters, details his life from undocumented Irish immigrant to ranking detective in one of the largest police departments in the world solving horrendous cases and the interactions and working with other judicial agencies.