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

  • The Five Best Luxury Super Cars From The 2016 Geneva Motor Show

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Geneva Motor Show is easily one of the biggest car shows in the automotive collection presentation cycle, and every year we see all the major car companies unveil some of the most impressive vehicles available.

     
  • Jack Black to Perform At The Oscars®

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The versatile actor, singer and comedian Jack Black will make a special appearance at the 87th Oscars, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today. The Oscars, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will air on Sunday, February 22, live on ABC.  

  • Film Independent and AMC Present Mad Men: Live Read & Screening Of The Series Finale

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    AMC and Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards, the Los Angeles Film Festival and Film Independent at LACMA, in conjunction with Lionsgate, announced a special Mad Men event on Sunday, May 17 at The Theatre at Ace Hotel DTLA.  

  • Celebrity Interview: John David Ware Talks on Making Unbridled, Eric Roberts, Human Trafficking and Equine Therapy

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Director John David Ware's unforgettable and captivating feature, Unbridled,  chronicles the journey of an abused girl who teams up with an abused horse and their journey to healing, and is inspired by a healing ranch in North Carolina.

     
  • Guy Laliberté And Alexandre Amancio Launch Multiplatform Creation, Production, and Distribution Company “Reflector Entertainment”

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Guy Laliberté and Alexandre Amancio announced today the launch of Reflector Entertainment, a Lune Rouge company. Co-founded by Cirque du Soleil creator Laliberté and video game developer, producer/writer/director Amancio, Reflector Entertainment is a multi-platform business that develops intellectual property.

Crime

  • Kim Kardashian West Robbed at Gunpoint; Kanye West Cancels Concert Mid-Song Citing "Family Emergency"

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Kim Kardashian West, reality television star and wife of musician Kanye West, was robbed at gunpoint of $10million dollars in jewelry while staying at a private residence in Paris for Fashion Week, according to media reports and her publicist.

     
  • UPDATE: Fourth Victim, Cousin of Shooter, in Washington State School Shooting Dies;Brings Total to Five

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The fourth student victim of the deadly shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Washington State, has claimed its fifth victim as parents and survivors are returning to school while trying to cope with the senseless tragedy.

     
  • Manhattan District Attorney Plans Second Etan Patz Trial

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced today he would seek a second trial in the Etan Patz child murder case that ended in a mistrial as the jury remained deadlocked after 18 days of deliberations.

     
  • Gas Main Explosion Levels Building in East Village; Scores Injured

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A suspected gas main explosion leveled a building on Manhattan’s lower east side injuring dozens some critical as firefighters attempted to contain the quickly spreading seven alarm inferno before it consumed the adjoining buildings.

     
  • Two NYPD Police Officers Executed in Gangland Style Ambush

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Two NYPD Police Officers, in a gangland style hit, were shot at point blank range while sitting in a marked police cruiser outside the Tompkins Housing Project in Brooklyn at around 3:00pm Saturday.

Theatre, Music, Books

  • HL A&E Presents The Best Summer 2016 Music Festivals, by the Numbers

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Every year, thousands of people flock to church. The devotees pray in flower crowns and straw hats, fringe-laden vests and neon body paint. They are the congregation of music lovers, gathering from many different corners of the world to worship at the summer’s many music festivals.  

  • Coffee Table Art For the Intellectually Promiscuous

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Coffee Table Art, considered the staple for the difficult on our Christmas list, has changed over the years and with the internet bookstore finding that perfect tome, a keepsake, a DIY guide, the best images of seven continents has never been easier.

     
  • Interstellar Soundtrack with Music By Hans Zimmer Out In Time For The Holidays

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    (October 28, 2014 – Los Angeles, CA) WaterTower Music today proudly announces the November 18 release of Interstellar: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, with music by renowned composer Hans Zimmer, whose career has earned him Grammy, Golden Globe, Classical Brit, Academy, Tony, and American Music Awards.

     
  • Honeymoon In Vegas Review – Go For The Music, Stay For The Elvis Impersonators

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Writing reviews to send out is actually quite difficult for me.  The truth is, I’m a theatre snob, and I’m pretty hard to please.  Without creative geniuses such as Rodgers and Hammerstein, Leonard Bernstein, or even Stephen Sondheim, it’s hard for me to give my endorsement.  Not this time.  You will love ‘Honeymoon In Vegas’.

     
  • Judi Dench's Exits & Entrances: A Celebration Of Shakespeare

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A Shakespearean celebration, with readings by Dame Judi Dench, David Suchet, Emilia Fox and the late Jeffery Dench. Exits and Entrances commemorates the 400th anniversary on April 23rd 2017 of the death of the world's most celebrated playwright William Shakespeare.