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

  • They Call Us Monsters Review - Captivating as Lifers at 16 Tell Their Stories

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    They Call Us Monsters, a documentary from BMP Films and New Artists Alliance, takes the camera inside California's maximum security juvenile facilities, inside the youth criminal justice system, the homes, lives and backgrounds of the young and violent criminal.

     
  • Pope Francis Begins His Historic Visit; Defines Edicts For the 1.2Billion Roman Catholics

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Pope Francis arrived yesterday in Washington D.C. greeted by President Obama and First Lady Michelle, His Excellency opted for a more conservative Italian manufactured Fiat, as he began his six day visit in America.

     
  • Cold Grey Light of Dawn, Newest Single by Hudson Moore, Featured in Sweetwater

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Cold Grey Light of Dawn,” Hudson Moore’s newest song is featured in the end credits of the recently released revenge filled western, “Sweetwater,” which stars January Jones, Ed Harris and Jason Isaacs. 

     
  • Chinese, Australia Officials Confirm Black Box Pings

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Chinese and Australian authorities have both confirmed to the media picking up "pings" associated with what they cautiously hope is from the back box of missing Malaysian Airliner MH370 that disappeared one month ago.

     
  • 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.

Crime

  • Robert Durst Charged With Susan Berman Murder; Extradited to Los Angeles

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Robert Alan Durst, the son of the New York millionaire real estate mogul Seymour Durst, was arrested in New Orleans and extradited to Los Angeles in the execution style murder of Susan Berman, a Beverly Hills writer and friend.

     
  • 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.

     
  • UPDATED:Three Dead, Nine Injured in Louisiana Theater Shooting

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Three are dead and at least nine injured, including the shooter, as a lone white man opened fire in a crowded Lafayette, Louisiana, Theater about twenty minutes into the screening of the Amy Schumer comedy TrainWreck.

     
  • Yellowstone Cold Case Remains Unsolved

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Scarface, the once 600lb grizzly bear known to roam free in the vast wilderness of Yellowstone National Park was shot and killed last November near Gardiner, Montana, after wandering just north of the Park's boundaries.  

  • Shooter Kills 12 at D.C. Navy Yard

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Washington DC dawn was disrupted when a former employee, dressed in military fatigues, accessed the U.S. Navy Yard and opened fire killing 12 and injuring eight before he was gunned down by police.

Theatre, Music, Books

  • Blondie and Garbage To Co-Headline Rage And Rapture Summer 2017 Tour (Music/Tix Links)

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Blondie & Garbage announced their North American tour will kick off on July 5th in Saratoga, CA and wrap on August 12th in Dallas, TX. John Doe & Exene Cervenka will provide support on the first leg of the tour and Deap Vally for the second.

     
  • The Fifth Letter Review - Page Turning Legal Thriller

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Fifth Letter, a novel by research scholar Dr. Vivian Carpenter, introduces Katherine Helena Ross, the first black female Supreme Court justice caught between her conscience and political expedience when forced to consider the most important question facing the U.S. Supreme Court today: Who is a person with inalienable rights?  

  • A California Closing Review – The Perfect Set of Characters for A Summertime Read

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Ready for a digital detox? Looking for the perfect summer read, a purely fun, page turner, turned down corners, smudged pages, a no app necessary, trashy, romance novel or high brow biography; soft or hard a genuine book?

     
  • Andre Mieux A.M.X: World R U Ready

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A.M.X. is a multi-talented R&B artist whose star is rising fast in the music industry with fans starting to take notice of his original sound. A.M.X., also known as Andre Mieux, is a singer, songwriter and music producer who has talent, charm and uniqueness as an artist.

     
  • Living A Life That Matters: A Memoir of the Marquis de Lafayette Review – Surprisingly Interesting

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Penned by renowned Civil Rights attorney David M. Weitzman, Living A Life That Matters will not jump off the shelf for the causal bookstore window shopper. The title, the image all suggest an intellectual read reserved for professors, scholars, politicians and the like.