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Why death penalty for suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings isn't guaranteed

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the only surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, will soon learn whether he faces the death penalty. (Via FBI)

Prosecutors say Tsarnaev, together with his brother Tamerlan, set off twin bombings near the finish line of the marathon in April. The explosions killed three people and injured more than 260. (Via The Boston Globe)

In July Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty. He faces 30 federal charges. Older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev died days after the explosions following a gun battle with police. (Via RT)

Now, Attorney General Eric Holder has to decide whether the 20-year-old surviving suspect will face the death penalty. A decision is expected within the next couple weeks. (Via PBS)

Which USA Today's Kevin Johnson calls a complicated question: "There is little argument about the strength of the case against Tsarnaev... Yet the government's record in carrying out the death penalty is mixed at best..."

For example, he points out, when Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was executed in 2001, it was the first federal execution in almost four decades. (Via FBI)

And Johnson notes there have only been three executions since the federal death penalty was reinstated in 1988. And in any case, even if the federal government were willing to pursue the death penalty, Boston residents might not.

Boston Globe poll released earlier this year found only 33 percent of Boston residents favored the death penalty for Tsarnaev.

Interesting compared to a Washington Post-ABC News poll of Americans overall — which found a whopping 70 percent surveyed supporting execution.

Tsarnaev's attorneys recently lost their appeal for more evidence from the prosecution, though a U.S. District Court judge did order prosecutors to turn over recordings of Tsarnaev's phone calls from jail. 

- See more at Newsy.com

 

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