The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will consider whether to reinstate the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit had agreed with Tsarnaev’s lawyers that the judge in his trial did not adequately vet potential jurors for bias.
The appeals court ordered a new penalty-phase trial to determine whether Tsarnaev should be executed for the attack that killed three people and wounded hundreds of others in April 2013.
Death sentence overturned for Boston Marathon bomber
The case will set up a dilemma for the Biden administration. The government asked the court to take up the case when President Donald Trump was in office, and his Department of Justice was aggressive in restarting the federal death penalty.
President Biden has said he opposes capital punishment. But his lawyers did not withdraw the petition at the Supreme Court, where justices have spent months considering whether to intervene.
The appeals court in July ruled that Tsarnaev’s penalty-phase trial could have been tainted by the extensive publicity surrounding the case.
“Make no mistake: Dzhokhar will spend his remaining days locked up in prison, with the only matter remaining being whether he will die by execution,” wrote Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson.
She said the trial judge did not do enough to probe what jurors already knew about the case because of the “pervasive” media coverage.
At his trial, Tsarnaev’s lawyers acknowledged he and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, set off the bombs at the marathon finish line. But they argued that Tamerlan was the mastermind.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a gun battle with police a few days after the bombing. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in federal prison in Colorado.