Tags: | Boston | marathon | bombing | jury | selection | death

Catholics Fear Exclusion From Boston Bombing Jury: Report

By    |   Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 06:57 PM

The Boston Marathon Bombing trial is pitting federal prosecutors seeking the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev against some would-be jurors who, in heavily Catholic Boston, are mostly forbidden by their church to vote for capital punishment, Religion News Service (RNS) and USA Today reports.

One jury candidate, a Catholic theologian, told the judge in U.S. District Court in Boston that voting to put Tsarnaev to death would probably cost him tenure in his teaching job, Reuters reports.

That was two weeks ago, and jury selection is still underway, with some of greater Boston's estimated 2 million Roman Catholics "growing frustrated with criteria that effectively disqualify followers of church teachings," writes RNS/USA Today correspondent G. Jeffrey MacDonald.

Tsarnaev, 21, is facing 30 counts for his role in the April 2013 bombing that killed three people and injured more than 260 people, and in connection with the shooting death of a campus police officer.

In a highly publicized case with a visceral connection to anxiety about global terrorism, lawyers and the U.S. District Judge George O'Toole are on guard against anything that hints of juror bias.

O'Toole has already delayed jury selection
once because of current events — the Paris bombing attacks.

Because 17 of the counts are for capital crimes punishable by death, prosecutors want jurors willing to impose the ultimate penalty in the event of convictions.

But that requirement conflicts with Catholic teaching that a death sentence is impermissible when other options for protecting society from a murderer are available.

"It is both ironic and unfortunate that Catholics who understand and embrace this teaching will be systematically excluded from the trial," says the Rev. James Bretzke, professor of moral theology at Boston College, told RNS. "It is frustrating."

Although Judge George O'Toole has denied defense motions to hold the trial outside of Boston, which is 46 percent Catholic, the slow pace of jury selection has kept the question of relocation in play, RNS reports.

Then again, 62 percent of Catholics nationwide favored capital punishment for murderers in a 2012 poll, RNS reports, and there are "plenty of Catholics who will impose the death penalty," said Karen Fleming-Gill, a Walnut Creek, Calif.-based jury consultant on capital cases.

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The Boston Marathon Bombing trial is pitting federal prosecutors seeking the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev against some would-be jurors who, in heavily Catholic Boston, are mostly forbidden by their church to vote for capital punishment, Religion News Service (RNS)...
Boston, marathon, bombing, jury, selection, death, penalty, Catholics
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2015-57-27
Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 06:57 PM
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