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

  • The Grim Sleeper, The South Central Serial Killer, Is Convicted

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

     

    Lonnie Franklin, Jr., The Grim Sleeper Serial Killer, was convicted of ten counts of murder and one count of attempted murder after three decades since his killing spree began, and may face the death penalty when the sentencing phase concludes.

     
  • David Oyelowo Will Serve As 2017 Spirit Awards Honorary Chair; Sterling K. Brown and Issa Rae To Co-Host Nominee Brunch, Announce Grant Winners

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Film Independent President Josh Welsh announced that David Oyelowo (Queen of Katwe, A United Kingdom) will be the 2017 Spirit Awards Honorary Chair. Oyelowo was nominated for Best Male Lead for his work in Selma (2015) and Best Supporting Male for Middle of Nowhere (2013).  

  • AFI Fest 2017 Presented By Audi Audience And Jury Award Winners Announced

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The American Film Institute (AFI) recently announced the films that received the Audience and Jury awards at AFI FEST 2017 presented by Audi with audience awards given in world cinema, new auteurs and american independents sections.   

  • 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.

     
  • Bentley Designs Signature Suite at New York’s Iconic St. Regis Hotel

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Bentley Motor and the St. Regis Hotel New York are delighted to announce the debut of a one-of-a-kind hotel suite at the iconic Manhattan landmark, the first hotel suite design collaboration for the luxury lifestyle provider.

Crime

  • Five Dead in Washington State Rampage; Third Mass Shooting This Week, Second in 24 Hours

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The last 24 hours have been particularly violent as two separate Mass shootings, in Hesston, Kansas and Belfair, Washington became the second and third of this bloody February leap year with a Kalamazoo, Michigan Uber driver being the first.

     
  • 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.

     
  • PA Newlywed Confesses to Craigslist Thrill Kill and 100 Others

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Miranda Barbour, the Pennsylvania newlywed charged with murder, has made a shocking revelation in a jailhouse interview confessing to committing up to 100 other murders across several states.

     
  • 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.

     
  • 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.

Theatre, Music, Books

  • Season of Salt and Honey Review - Charming Depiction of Twists and Turns Life Serves Up

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Season of Salt and Honey, a novel by Hannah Tunnicliffe, is another page turner penned with her skillful artistic strokes adding layers of human emotions intertwining untimely heartache and natural healing process with the magic remedies of culinary creations.

     
  • 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?

     
  • 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.

     
  • 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.  

  • BACKSTAGE PAST: The High Times of Legendary Rock Promoter Barry Fey

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    BACKSTAGE PAST, the auto bio road trip from legendary promoter Barry Fey, reveals the dressing room romps of Rock n' Roll royalty from a career that spans forty years of music madness.