By: Robert (Bob) Bianchi, Esq.
As we awaited the verdict against Boston Bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, I was honored to be a guest on Fox News, America’s Newsroom anchor, Martha MacCallum, to analyze this case.
While the verdict of guilty was to most all a certainty, that was not the only issue with this case. In the background, another story is the tactics of the defense attorney, who is desperately attempting to spare her client’s life, is using and will they be effective.
Although the defense lost this verdict in the “guilt phase” of this trial, they may have won a lot in the process now entering the “death penalty phase.” Now, I feel that a death sentence will be the final result; however, the defense has done a great job on several points during the trial as it relates to the death penalty phase. For instance:
– The shock of the horror of the videos, pictures, and testimony from the victims and their families is now over. In a sense, jurors are now “desensitized” to the ugliness that this case represents. And, they have had a chance to vote on that testimony via their guilty finding.
– The jury has now had an opportunity to view a real person sitting at the defense attorney who is young and impressionable. Accordingly, the more he is seen as a human being, the more difficult it is to decide to execute him. I have tried many New Jersey murder and death penalty cases and know firsthand that jurors often change their initial feelings about a person that did a horrible thing the more they get to “know them” throughout the trial.
– The defense is hammering away at the theme that the defendant was under the control of his older brother. Specifically, that he was young and impressionable and persuaded to do a horrible thing because his will was overcome by the manipulations and brainwashing of his brother. This goes to the heart of a “mitigating factor” in death penalty cases;
– The defense has forced the judge and prosecution to make evidential decisions and rulings about the admissibility of certain pieces of evidence that are subject to significant review by a higher court. The Court of Appeals will have to review each of these decisions to determine if they were legally proper.
Further, I have predicted (and many disagree) that as a New Jersey Defense Attorney, Former New Jersey Prosecutor, and New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Criminal Trial Attorney that the defense will make another interesting argument at the sentencing phase of this trial.
I predict that the defense attorney will rely heavily upon the note the defendant wrote in the boat where he was captured. In it, he states that he does not want to harm “innocent” people, but that he has to in the name of god. Confused… yes! But, it fits into the defense narrative of a young, impressionable person, whose distorted views made him feel that he was doing god’s will. The attorney will also argue that life in prison is a worse fate for a person so radicalized.
If I were the defense attorney, I would argue that we should not execute him and become like “them.” I would argue that by having a trial, protecting his rights when he had no regard for ours, and doing what we are doing to ensure a fair trial (and not using a sword or horrible execution) is what separates “us” from “them” and shows our majesty and strength as a nation. In short, “if we execute him, we become them.”
It is a powerful, patriotic statement and theme to make. Moreover, the defense only needs a single juror to agree that the death penalty is not appropriate, for the defense to win.
While I predict that ultimately the horror of this crime will overcome the defense’s attempts to spare the client’s life, I feel that the jury will have a lot to think about along the way.
The attorneys at The Bianchi Law Group are specialists in Criminal Prosecution and Criminal Defense Cases. We have tried numerous murder cases, inclusive of the death penalty. Partners Robert (Bob) Bianchi and David Bruno have handled some of the most notorious and horrific murder cases in the State of New Jersey. With that background, we are impressed with the lawyering of both the prosecution and defense attorneys in this case.
Congratulations to both sides that – in reality – have demonstrated to the world what makes this the best nation on earth, even with our problems and issues. All can see that the rule of law, and not the will of an individual’s sword or gas can, is how we achieve justice.
Kudos to the attorneys and the court system. Through this tragedy, they showed us what is most important about our way of life so that the whole world can take note of the power of who we really are as a people!