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BANGKOK 19 August 2019 19:48
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Parents of Boston marathon victim say take death penalty off table

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Parents of marathon victim say take death penalty off table

BOSTON (AP) — The parents of the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombing are urging federal authorities to consider taking the death penalty off the table for the man convicted in the case.

Bill and Denise Richard, whose 8-year-old son, Martin, was one of three people killed by the April 2013 explosions at the marathon's finish line, say in a front-page piece in Friday's Boston Globe (http://bit.ly/1cBzoQE ) that sentencing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death "could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives."

"We are in favor of and would support the Department of Justice in taking the death penalty off the table in exchange for the defendant spending the rest of his life in prison without any possibility of release and waiving all of his rights to appeal," they wrote.

The Richards' daughter, Jane, lost a leg in one of the explosions, and they both suffered injuries.

"We understand all too well the heinousness and brutality of the crimes committed. We were there. We lived it. The defendant murdered our 8-year-old son, maimed our 7-year-old daughter, and stole part of our soul. We know that the government has its reasons for seeking the death penalty, but the continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives," they said.

They wrote that when Tsarnaev fades from the media spotlight and public view they can start "rebuilding our lives and family."

The Richards never mention Tsarnaev by name, simply calling him "the defendant," and stressed that they are speaking only for themselves.

U.S. Attorney for Boston Carmen Ortiz says she is aware of the Richards' view but cannot comment on the specifics.

"But as I have previously assured both Bill and Denise, I care deeply about their views and the views of the other victims and survivors," Ortiz said.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a friend of the Richard family, tells WBZ-AM he respects their point of view.

Jennifer Lemmerman, the sister of Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier who was killed by Tsarnaev and his older brother days after the explosions, has also spoken out against the death penalty on her Facebook page, in posts that have since been removed.

Relatives of other victims have expressed support of the death penalty.

The penalty phase of Tsarnaev's trial starts Tuesday, the day after this year's marathon.

Robert Blecker, a New York Law School professor and death penalty expert, said it's highly doubtful the statement by the Richards will sway the Justice Department.

"Victims and the survivors play a role — they should have a voice — but the reason they don't get a veto and shouldn't get a veto is because often there are larger interests at stake," said Blecker, who said he supports the death penalty for Tsarnaev.

"The question here is one of terrorism and partly a statement of denunciation of terrorism because that is one of the purposes of the death penalty," he said.

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-- (c) Associated Press 2015-04-18

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I have no problem with these people's opinion or reasoning, but I am guessing that some other parents would not agree. There is no doubt at all that this defendant is guilty of this horrible crime. If anyone deserves death, it is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

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No surprise. Massachusetts is a liberal state.

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If 'A' murders someone, and his victim's family wants him to get death, but 'B' also murders and HIS VICTIM's family does NOT, is that fair? Some might make the case that two people who commit the same crime should suffer the same penalty. I'm definitely NOT taking a position on this question; just asking it. I'll only ask this in addition: if it were you advocating for life in prison instead of the death penalty, and the defendant subsequently went on to kill again, either in prison or out, would you feel you had some of that blood on your hands?

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The victims' families have no legal standing in the matter. A crime is against the state for prosecution purposes which in this case is the federal government. They are welcome to voice an opinion but that's all it is.

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The victims' families have no legal standing in the matter. A crime is against the state for prosecution purposes which in this case is the federal government. They are welcome to voice an opinion but that's all it is.

Actually they do. A victim's impact statement can effect the judge's decision on the sentencing. Not sure about federal though.

Purpose: The purpose of victim impact statements is to allow crime victims, during the decision-making process on sentencing or parole, to describe to the court or parole board the impact of the crime. A judge may use information from these statements to help determine an offender's sentence; a parole board may use such information to help decide whether to grant a parole and what conditions to impose in releasing an offender. A few states allow victim impact information to be introduced at bail, pre-trial release, or plea bargain hearings.

Victim impact statements may provide information about damage to victims that would otherwise have been unavailable to courts or parole boards. Victims are often not called to testify in court, and if they testify, they must respond to narrow, specific questions. Victim impact statements are often the victims' only opportunity to participate in the criminal justice process or to confront the offenders who have harmed them. Many victims report that making such statements improves their satisfaction with the criminal justice process and helps them recover from the crime.

Source

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The victims' families have no legal standing in the matter. A crime is against the state for prosecution purposes which in this case is the federal government. They are welcome to voice an opinion but that's all it is.

Actually they do. A victim's impact statement can effect the judge's decision on the sentencing. Not sure about federal though.

Purpose: The purpose of victim impact statements is to allow crime victims, during the decision-making process on sentencing or parole, to describe to the court or parole board the impact of the crime. A judge may use information from these statements to help determine an offender's sentence; a parole board may use such information to help decide whether to grant a parole and what conditions to impose in releasing an offender. A few states allow victim impact information to be introduced at bail, pre-trial release, or plea bargain hearings.

Victim impact statements may provide information about damage to victims that would otherwise have been unavailable to courts or parole boards. Victims are often not called to testify in court, and if they testify, they must respond to narrow, specific questions. Victim impact statements are often the victims' only opportunity to participate in the criminal justice process or to confront the offenders who have harmed them. Many victims report that making such statements improves their satisfaction with the criminal justice process and helps them recover from the crime.

Source

I should have worded that better. The victims have a right to make a statement but it has no force in law including in sentencing guidelines.

Courts have long held that the purpose of a criminal trial is to satisfy the state ("The People") and not the victim. That's why we can see a criminal trial satisfying the state sometimes followed by a civil trial for damages.

As I said, they are welcome to voice an opinion about being a victim, but they have no right to exact any retribution.

Cheers

Edited by NeverSure

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The victims' families have no legal standing in the matter. A crime is against the state for prosecution purposes which in this case is the federal government. They are welcome to voice an opinion but that's all it is.

Actually they do. A victim's impact statement can effect the judge's decision on the sentencing. Not sure about federal though.

Purpose: The purpose of victim impact statements is to allow crime victims, during the decision-making process on sentencing or parole, to describe to the court or parole board the impact of the crime. A judge may use information from these statements to help determine an offender's sentence; a parole board may use such information to help decide whether to grant a parole and what conditions to impose in releasing an offender. A few states allow victim impact information to be introduced at bail, pre-trial release, or plea bargain hearings.

Victim impact statements may provide information about damage to victims that would otherwise have been unavailable to courts or parole boards. Victims are often not called to testify in court, and if they testify, they must respond to narrow, specific questions. Victim impact statements are often the victims' only opportunity to participate in the criminal justice process or to confront the offenders who have harmed them. Many victims report that making such statements improves their satisfaction with the criminal justice process and helps them recover from the crime.

Source

I should have worded that better. The victims have a right to make a statement but it has no force in law including in sentencing guidelines.

Courts have long held that the purpose of a criminal trial is to satisfy the state ("The People") and not the victim. That's why we can see a criminal trial satisfying the state sometimes followed by a civil trial for damages.

As I said, they are welcome to voice an opinion about being a victim, but they have no right to exact any retribution.

Cheers

No "right"; that's true. Strictly speaking anyway. But if the judge has discretion in sentencing, and is influenced by such a statement, and I believe some definitely are, then it seems to be me there's sort of a "virtual right" that attaches to a victim being afforded the opportunity to make such a statement in court, when there's a chance it will affect the actual sentence handed down. Having the "ear" of the judge amounts to something. And in this case, where the victim is claiming they'll actually suffer further as the result of any death sentence, I'll just bet that'll carry some weight with the judge.

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The Crime Victims Rights Act of 2004 expanded victims' rights to not be excluded from United States District Court court proceedings, to include any victim being reasonably heard at sentencing. Until 2004 only children --as appropriate-- had had the right. The 2004 law does not apply to the Supreme Court or to the US courts of appeal below it.

SCOTUS further expanded victims' rights in 2010, ruling victims have the right to be heard by the US district courts in death penalty cases, to include a right to communicate directly with the US Attorney in a death penalty case. There are more than 250 injured victims in this case and the families especially of the three people killed in the Tsnaraev bombings plus the family of the MIT police officer the terrorist brothers murdered in cold blood.

According to the Justice Department, "The victim impact statement assists the judge when he or she decides what sentence the defendant should receive. Although the judge will decide the defendant’s sentence based primarily on the pre-sentence report and certain sentencing guidelines, the judge will consider the victims' opinion before making a decision." (emphasis added)

US District Court judges have however usually omitted Victim Impact Statements from the presentence report (only) of the US Attorney and investigators because many judges are concerned it may give the victims a dubious legal standing. SCOTUS has not considered the question but the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in SFO said judges may do this, and that decision stands as the controlling decision unless SCOTUS finds a reason to accept a challenge to it. No other US court has ruled otherwise on the question.

Attorney General Holder is on principle opposed to the death penalty so when DoJ filed its case with the court it filed a notice listing factors that they argue justify a death sentence in the case. Among them: The attack killed multiple people, involved substantial planning and premeditation and involved betrayal of the United States.

Well a number of people over time have been convicted of "betrayal" of the United States without getting the death penalty, but many of them had been spies or money seekers. Tsnaraev betrayed his naturalized citizenship of the United States and his oath of allegiance to the Constitution when he became a mass destruction terrorist who killed three civilians and a police officer in the process. Where might he have stopped or had been stopped if not when he was in fact stopped.

Betrayal of the United States used to mean the firing squad.

http://www.uscourts.gov/uscourts/RulesAndPolicies/rules/cvra0806.pdf

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