The convicted Boston Marathon bomber faces the death penalty
The jurors in the Boston Marathon bombing trial have two options.
They can sentence Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to a lifetime in federal prison, or they can recommend the death penalty. They have no other options.
In court on Monday, Tsarnaev’s attorneys asked the jurors to spare his life and send him to a federal supermax prison in Colorado.
During his opening statements, defense attorney David Bruck held up a photo of the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado.
“If you sentence him to life, this is where he will be,” Bruck told jurors.
The prison, also known as ADX Florence, houses a who’s who of America’s most notorious terrorists, including 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski. Other notorious inmates at the prison: attempted shoe bomber Richard Reid, attempted underwear bomber Umar Abdulmutallab, and four of the co-conspirators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Tsarnaev’s attorneys hope that the jury will agree that ADX Florence is the best place for their client.
“He’d go here and be forgotten,” Bruck told the jurors. “His legal case would be over for good, and no martyrdom. That might be, that should be, a vote for life.”
Life inside ADX Florence is harsh. According to the New York Times, inmates spend approximately 23 hours each day in solitary confinement, living in 12-ft.-by-7-ft. cells with solid metal doors so that prisoners cannot see one another.
When prisoners get out of their cells for exercise, they’re taken to an indoor gym that is little more than a chin-up bar in a windowless room. If a prisoner is taken out to the rec yard, he is confined in an individual cage.
The defense has continued to claim that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was manipulated by his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died in a shoot-out with police. Bruck told the jurors that Dzhokhar was “a lost teenager with not much motivation to do anything on his own.”
But prosecutors hope that the jury will choose the death penalty for him.
In court last week, prosecutor Nadine Pellegrini said that an unrepentant Tsarnaev was “determined to be America’s worst nightmare.” She then showed the jury a video of Tsarnaev giving the middle finger to a camera in a holding cell.
The penalty phase is expected to take about four weeks.