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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asks for stay of execution, seeks new appeal on constitutional grounds

In this May 15, 2015, courtroom sketch by Jane Flavell Collins, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, center, stands with his defense attorneys as a death by lethal injection sentence is read.Jane Flavell Collins/Associated Press

Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is asking the First Circuit Court of Appeals to stay his execution and consider four constitutional claims in his case that were not presented to the US Supreme Court, which last month reinstated the death penalty for Tsarnaev, ruling that he had received a fair trial for his role in the 2013 terrorist attacks that killed three and injured more than 260.

In a court filing Thursday, Tsarnaev’s attorneys said the US District Court in Boston improperly forced their client to stand trial in the city, denied his challenges to two jurors who allegedly lied in court, dismissed a juror who opposed the death penalty, and admitted evidence that was collected after a “coerced confession.”


On Wednesday, the First Circuit complied with the Supreme Court’s decision to reinstate the death penalty for Tsarnaev, now 28, on five charges in the case and to enter a judgment of acquittal on three other counts, officials said. Tsarnaev is asking the court to vacate that ruling.

Federal prosecutors don’t object to the First Circuit making a ruling on the four questions of constitutional law, but they believe “that the defendant’s death sentences should be affirmed for the reasons stated in the government’s briefing and at oral argument,” according to court documents.

Tsarnaev was sentenced to death for placing a pressure-cooker bomb outside the Forum restaurant on Boylston Street on April 15, 2013, leading to an explosion that killed 8-year-old Martin Richard of Dorchester and Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old Boston University graduate student from China.

At the time, Tsarnaev was a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. He was a 2011 graduate of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, the Globe reported.

His older brother, Tamerlan, placed a bomb that killed Krystle Campbell, 29, of Arlington. The brothers also shot and killed MIT police officer Sean Collier while they were on the run after the bombings. Tamerlan was killed in a confrontation with police in Watertown hours after Collier’s shooting.


In 2020, the appeals court upheld Tsarnaev’s convictions but overturned the death sentence he had received at his 2015 trial, ruling that Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. “did not meet the standard” of fairness while presiding over jury selection.

Tsarnaev is in a federal prison in Colorado.

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at Follow him @jeremycfox.