Login Form

Boston Bomber Sentencing: Hank Brennan, Boston Legal Scholar, Explains the Death Penalty Phase

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is set to begin the sentencing phase of his trial. To understand the jury's responsibilities, Hank Brennan, former Boston prosecutor and current defense attorney in the appeal for notorious mobster James "Whitey" Bulger agreed to explain.

Federal Death Penalty Act

The next phase of the United States v. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial is what is commonly called the "death penalty phase." In Federal Court the procedure has been codified and is known as the Federal Death Penalty Act (FDPA). This statue can be found at U.S. Code Title 18, Part II c.228.  

The jury will consider both aggravating and mitigating circumstances relative to the qualifying convictions.

A qualifying conviction is an indictment (often called a charge) that the defendant was found guilty for which qualifies for the penalty of death. Not all convictions qualify for the death penalty.  

The prosecution will call witnesses, primarily victims or family members of victims.  The witnesses have an opportunity to emote and may testify to the impact inflicted upon them by the defendant's acts or they may read pre-written impact statements describing the physical, emotional, and financial impact caused by the defendant's crimes.

The defense may also introduce witnesses to attempt to demonstrate any relevant mitigating factor on behalf of the defendant. After considering the evidence the jury decides whether death should be imposed. If the jury chooses that death should not be imposed, the judge will impose a sentence that will inevitably be a life sentence without parole.  

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors are found in U.S. Code Title 18, Part II c.228  § 3592.

Mitigating factors include impaired capacity, duress, being a minor participant, no prior criminal record, equally or more culpable co-defendant, and other factors including the defendant's past character.  

Aggravating factors are numerous and include whether death occurred during the commission of another crime, a grave risk of death to additional persons, if the offense was committed in an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner in that it involved torture or serious physical abuse to the victim, substantial planning and premeditation to cause the death of a person or commit an act of terrorism, the particular vulnerability of the victim due to old age, youth, or infirmity, and whether the defendant intentionally killed or attempted to kill more than one person in a single criminal episode.

Jury Determines Aggravating and Mitigating Factors

The jury's must return special finding identifying any aggravating factors. All jurors must unanimously agree for any aggravating factor to be deemed established.

A finding of any mitigating factor, however, may be made by 1 or more members of the jury. Upon a finding of a mitigating factor by at least one member of the jury, the factor is deemed established.

The jury will consider whether all the aggravating factor or factors found to exist sufficiently outweigh all the mitigating factor or factors found to exist to justify a sentence of death, or, in the absence of a mitigating factor, whether the aggravating factor or factors alone are sufficient to justify a sentence of death. The jury will then recommend whether the defendant should be sentenced to death, to life imprisonment without possibility of release or some other lesser sentence.

A recommendation to sentence to death must be by a unanimous vote.

 

Haute Tease

  • 2014 Student Academy Awards® Finalists Announced

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Beverly Hills, CA – Forty-one students from 23 U.S. colleges and universities as well as 10 students from foreign universities have been selected as finalists in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 41st Student Academy Awards competition. 

     
  • A Pink Suitcase Book Review – Empowering Stories from Women Who Dared

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A Pink Suitcase, from World Traveler Press, presents twenty-two provocative individual stories of empowered woman who dared to fulfill their dreams of global expedition, from hiking the Appalachian Trail to entering Gutsy Gal adventures.

     
  • Hank Brennan, Former Prosecutor and Defense Attorney, Provides Commentary on the Aaron Hernandez Trial

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The murder trial of Aaron Hernandez, former tight end for the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, is entering Day 13 as the defense continues its attempts to discredit the prosecution’s case witness by witness.

     
  • Jason Reitman to Host Live Commentary of "The Princess Bride" At The Academy

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Jason Reitman will be joined onstage by director Rob Reiner and actor Cary Elwes for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ first live commentary event, featuring a screening of the 1987 favorite "The Princess Bride," on Thursday, August 15, at 7:30 p.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. 

     
  • Cheryl Boone Isaacs Elected Academy President

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Cheryl Boone Isaacs was elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Tuesday night (July 30) by the organization’s Board of Governors.

     
  • HL Travel: What's New in Paris and the Paris Region for 2018

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    On the heels of a tourism uptick, 23 million tourists in 2017 alone, Paris, France is forecasting its most successful year in a decade making the City of Light one of the most sought after and realized global destinations.

     
  • Wilson Review – Even Solid Acting Can’t Save the Lukewarm Dramady

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Wilson, from Fox Searchlight Pictures, brings to the screen a haphazard tale of life as told from the marginalized and the twist, turns, bumps bruises that comes from contemporary living, anesthetizing choices and attempts to recapture the past.

Donate Elite

It's the desire at Haute-Lifestyle.com to keep journalism free. Running a business, however, dictates what is now a common dilemma; a paywall, subscription or donation. Thank you for your donation.