Jury selection is underway for Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, which has come as a surprise to many who were expecting a plea deal.
A possible plea deal could help Tsarnaev avoid the death penalty and get a life sentence instead, but so far, the young terrorist isn’t budging.
“This case in particular is appropriate for resolution by a plea,” said noted Defense Attorney David Hoose. “Where there are so many victims involved and so many people whose lives would be disrupted and old memories brought to the fore again, there is more reason than in any case for there to be a plea [deal].”
“There would still be a sentencing hearing; the major difference would be that after a plea the sentencing hearing is really focused entirely on the victims,” Hoose added. “At a penalty trial, what happens is that inevitably the bulk of the presentation deals with the defendant and it becomes much more about the defendant’s life rather than the victims’ lives.”
Tsarnaev is being represented by Judy Clarke, a defense attorney known for scoring men like Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph, and Tucson gunman Jared Loughner deals that allowed them to live. When she joined Tsarnaev’s legal team, it appeared a plea deal was imminent, but no deal has been put forth as of yet.
Though a plea deal could technically happen at any time during trial, “as a practical matter, the chances of a plea deal once a trial begins diminishes,” says Donald Stern, the former U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts.
With this in mind, Tsarnaev likely only has a few more days to save his life. Should he go to trial, he could very well end up being put to death.