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Lawyer for Boston Marathon bomber maps out appeal of death penalty sentence

A courtroom sketch of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Jane Collins

Lawyers for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have flagged roughly 30 issues they plan to raise when he appeals his death sentence, according to a recent legal filing.

A motion filed last week with the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston said the attorneys have “identified approximately 30 appellate claims to consider raising in Mr. Tsarnaev’s [appellate] brief.”

Tsarnaev’s lawyers requested that the Aug. 20 deadline for filing their highly anticipated brief be pushed back to Nov. 18, citing their ongoing analysis of some 10,000 pages of transcripts in the case.

“Even relative to other federal capital appeals and terrorism appeals across the country, the record here is voluminous,” David Patton, a member of Tsarnaev’s appellate team, wrote in the motion.


Tsarnaev, 25, was convicted in 2015 for his role in the April 2013 Marathon bombings, which killed three people including an 8-year-old boy and wounded more than 260 others. He was sentenced to death and is currently incarcerated at a federal supermax prison in Colorado.

Tsarnaev and his older brother and accomplice, Tamerlan, also killed an MIT police officer while they were on the run. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a confrontation with police in Watertown days after the bombings.

In last week’s motion, Patton referenced Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s alleged involvement in a 2011 triple homicide in Waltham. No one has been charged in that case.

“In granting the government’s motion [during Dzhokhar’s trial] to preclude any evidence at the penalty phase of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s involvement in a brutal triple homicide and robbery in 2011, the District Court reviewed and relied upon in camera ex parte materials submitted by the government,” Patton wrote. “In order to fully litigate this preclusion issue in the opening brief, counsel needs access to these materials.”

Patton listed additional issues that Tsarnaev’s team expects to raise on appeal.


“Counsel have completed drafts of a substantial portion of the remaining claims, including issues concerning venue, multiple errors in the selection of the death-qualified jury, the admission of evidence obtained through the use of Mr. Tsarnaev’s involuntary confession, the lawfulness of certain counts of conviction . . . the exclusion of relevant mitigation material, improper prosecutorial arguments, and the admission of victim impact evidence from survivors,” Patton wrote. “But, despite continuous effort, a number of issues identified and determined to be sufficiently weighty for inclusion remain to be drafted.”

Travis Andersen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.