Tags: | prejean | plead | tsarnaev | life | death penalty

'Dead Man Walking' Nun Hopes to Plead for Boston Marathon Bomber's Life

By    |   Saturday, 09 May 2015 02:18 PM

Boston Judge George O'Toole Jr. is expected to decide on Monday if "Dead Man Walking" Sister Helen Prejean, one of the Catholic Church's most famous death penalty opponents will be allowed to plead for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's life.

Tsarnaev's attorneys have included Prejean, whose story inspired the award-winning Susan Sarandon film in 1995, on their witness list, reports the Catholic publication Crux.

She was at the Boston courthouse on Thursday, but was not called to testify, leaving O'Toole to determine if she'll be allowed on the stand at all. Prosecutors in the case oppose the 76-year-old nun's testimony, which they fear could sway the jurors, who come from heavily Catholic Greater Boston.

Earlier this year, potential jurors were dismissed from the Tsarnaev trial when they said their faith prohibited them from voting for him to put to death.

Capital punishment was abolished in Massachusetts in 1984, but Tsarnaev is facing federal charges of terrorism, and the death penalty has not been outlawed on a federal level.

And while there are many who are calling for death for Tsarnaev, who was 19 at the time of the Boston Marathon bombings, the view is different for many in Boston. According to a poll taken by Boston NPR affiliate WBUR in March of 229 registered Boston voters, 62 percent said Tsarnaev should be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, while 27 percent said he should receive the death penalty.

"Generally speaking, you’d expect the city of Boston to be anti-death penalty, but this took place in Boston and everybody in Boston was affected in some way," Steve Koczela of The MassINC Polling Group, which conducted the poll, told WBUR. "To see such a strong preference in Boston for life in prison was not necessarily guaranteed or expected."

Koczela said Bostonians tend to be more liberal and Democratic, taking a political side that generally opposes capital punishment.

Last month, Catholic bishops in Massachusetts also opposed the death penalty for Tsarnaev, writing in a letter  that "the defendant in this case has been neutralized and will never again have the ability to cause harm...we believe that society can do better than the death penalty."

Last month, Tsarnaev was found guilty of participating in the 2013 bombing, which left three people dead and more than 260 injured. His lawyers admitted he took part, but have claimed that his older brother, Tamerlan, who was shot and killed after the attack, was the mastermind and influenced the younger Tsarnaev into joining in.

But prosecutors say he is an equal partner who even put one of the bags carrying the pressure cooker bombs behind a family, killing an eight-year-old boy, Martin Richard, and causing his sister, Jane, to lose a leg.


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Boston Judge George O'Toole Jr. is expected to decide on Monday if Dead Man Walking Sister Helen Prejean, one of the Catholic Church's most famous death penalty opponents will be allowed to plead for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's life.
prejean, plead, tsarnaev, life, death penalty
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2015-18-09
Saturday, 09 May 2015 02:18 PM
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