Tags: alan dershowitz | boston | bombing | trial

Dershowitz: Death Sentence for Boston Bomber Will Be Hard Sell

By Bill Hoffmann   |   Friday, 31 Jan 2014 05:19 PM

Famed civil-rights lawyer Alan Dershowitz says it will be difficult for prosecutors to win a death penalty verdict against Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

"I think it's going to be hard to get 12 jurors who will impose the death penalty on a young man who was heavily influenced by his brother, even though the crime was inexcusable," Dershowitz told John Bachman, guest host of "The Steve Malzberg Show," on Newsmax TV.

On Thursday, federal prosecutors said they'll seek the death penalty against Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tsarnaev, stating he acted in "an especially heinous, cruel and depraved manner."

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Dershowitz, a veteran professor at Harvard Law School, said the announcement was no surprise.

"It was completely predictable. If there's ever a crime that deserves the death penalty, it's this one, obviously — premeditated, planned, lots of victims, just a devastating, horrible attack with no justification," he said.

"On the other hand, it plays right into his hands. He wants to be a martyr, he wants the attention, he wants to be able to make his case to the public so it would've been better if they have allowed him to just spend the rest of his life in prison and die in obscurity at the age of 80."

Dershowitz said one unknown factor is whether Tsarnaev wants to avoid the death penalty.

"That's the first question his lawyer has to ascertain from him," he said.

Authorities allege Tsarnaev, a Chechnya-born American, and his brother Tamerlan planted bombs near the finish line of the marathon last April — causing three deaths and 250 injuries. Police shot and killed Tamerlan Tsarnaev during their manhunt for the brothers.

"The issue is not did he do it, the evidence is overwhelming, the issue is does he get the death penalty," Dershowitz said.

"Remember, even Ted Kennedy didn't seek the death penalty for Sirhan Sirhan when he murdered his brother [Robert F. Kennedy] in cold blood. So Boston is a city which has, at least, conflicting views on the death penalty and that might be good for the defense."


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