Appeals court vacates Boston Marathon bomber's death sentence, orders new penalty trial

A makeshift memorial site for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing

A makeshift memorial site for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing

A U.S. appeals court has overturned the death sentence given to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for the deadly bombing attack at the 2013 Boston Marathon.

An entry submitted in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit read, "Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's convictions on Counts 13, 15, and 18 are reversed, and the district court is directed to enter a judgment of acquittal on those counts".

This is a developing story and will be updated as events warrant. "Make no mistake: Dzhokhar will spend his remaining days locked up in prison, with the only matter remaining being whether he will die by execution", she said.

Tsarnaev's lawyers say one of the jurors, who would go one to become the jury's foreperson, or chief spokesperson, published two dozen tweets in the wake of the bombings.

The three appeals judges found that two jurors in Tsarnaev's sentencing were biased against him before the trial started, citing social media posts introduced by Tsarnaev's lawyers.

Tsarnaev is being held at the United States' "Supermax" prison in Florence, Colorado, a site so remote and well secured that it is nicknamed the "Alcatraz of the Rockies".

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Thompson said the pervasive news coverage of the bombings and their aftermath featured "bone-chilling" photos and videos of Tsarnaev and his brother carrying backpacks at the marathon and of those injured and killed near its finish line. The appeals judges, in a hearing on the case in early December, devoted a significant number of questions to the juror bias argument.

"By not having the jurors identify what it was they already thought they knew about the case, the judge made it too hard for himself and the parties to determine both the nature of any taint (e.g., whether the juror knew something prejudicial not to be conceded at trial) and the possible remedies for the taint", the judges wrote.

Tsarnaev and his late older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, set off bombs during the 2013 Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring hundreds.

The judges noted that the Boston court has a longstanding rule obligating such an inquiry.

Tsarnaev was convicted on 30 charges, including conspiracy and use of a weapon of mass destruction.

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