Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be formally sentenced to death at a one-day hearing, possibly in late June, that will include statements from survivors of the terror attack, US District Court George A. O’Toole Jr. said Tuesday.
At least 20 survivors and relatives of victims plan to deliver victim impact statements, according to a federal prosecutor who had asked O’Toole for a quick scheduling of the hearing. “I feel there’s a very strong interest in finality in all this,” Assistant US Attorney William Weinreb told the judge.
Tsarnaev was condemned by a federal jury to death last week, and although their decision is binding, only a judge can officially impose the sentence.
Lawyers for Tsarnaev had asked that the hearing be held in mid-August, to give them time to file motions for a new trial and a request to vacate Tsarnaev’s conviction and death sentence. Such motions are typical in any criminal case.
Prosecutors opposed the request, saying it should not take so long to file the motions. Defense lawyers argued that they will need the time to sort through the trove of trial documents, many of which are sealed and will need to be reviewed to determine if they can be made public.
“Our interest is in doing as good a job as we can,” Judy Clarke said.
O’Toole said he would probably schedule the sentencing hearing for late June, but would wait to set the exact date until the lawyers can review their schedules. He also said he will set a separate schedule for the lawyers to file motions.
In addition to the 20 victims who have told prosecutors they want to speak at the sentencing, others have written letters to the judge.
Tsarnaev will also be allowed to speak at the hearing if he chooses to do so.
A federal jury last week deliberated for 14 hours before voting unanimously to sentence Tsarnaev, now 21, to death.
The jury found in favor of the death penalty for six counts related to the bomb Tsarnaev placed in front of the Forum Restaurant on Boylston Street that killed 8-year-old Martin Richard and Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old Boston University graduate student from China.
Tsarnaev will receive life sentences for the charges he faced related to the bomb that was placed by his older brother, Tamerlan — the bomb that killed Krystle Marie Campbell, 29, of Arlington, and for the fatal shooting of MIT police Officer Sean Collier.
Tsarnaev’s death sentence will be subject to an automatic appeal.