"Death penalty for Boston bomber a complicated question," is by Kevin Johnson for USA Today.
The high-security wing at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., now represents an increasingly complicated backdrop for a decision Attorney General Eric Holder is set to make in the next several weeks on whether to pursue the death penalty in the federal government's prosecution of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
There is little argument about the strength of the case against Tsarnaev, charged with 30 criminal counts in connection with the blasts that killed three and wounded more than 260 others. There are photographs of Tsarnaev allegedly planting explosives at the site of one of the bombings. Yet the government's record in carrying out the death penalty is mixed at best, and there are conflicting views about whether the often-delayed penalty is an appropriate punishment if the 20-year-old defendant is convicted in the bombing case.
Since the federal death penalty was reinstated in 1988, only three offenders have been executed and none in the past 10 years.
Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh marked the first federal execution in nearly 40 years when he was put to death in 2001. But even the execution of McVeigh, whose conviction was swift and who had abandoned last-ditch appeals, was delayed when it was discovered that the government had failed to turn over documents to the bomber's defense attorneys.
In the case of Tsarnaev, there are other potentially complicating factors at play for the federal government in Massachusetts, a state long opposed to the death penalty.
"For Feds, Boston Cases Pose Death Penalty Question," is by Sheri Qualters at the National Law Journal.
Federal prosecutors in Massachusetts, where the death penalty was abolished nearly 30 years ago, face the rare prospect of two simultaneous capital cases for unrelated killings that happened more than a decade apart.
Prosecutors under the direction of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz in Boston have a Jan. 31 deadline to announce whether the government will seek to execute Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, jailed for his alleged role in carrying out the attack at the Boston marathon in April.
In a separate matter, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit this summer struck down the capital sentence for convicted killer Gary Lee Sampson, forcing prosecutors to decide whether to pursue the death penalty a second time. Sampson's case marked the first-ever federal death sentence in Massachusetts, where state-based capital punishment was banned in 1984.
U.S. Department of Justice rules give the attorney general the final say on whether to seek the death penalty in any federal case. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. has not said whether prosecutors will seek death against Tsarnaev. Ortiz declined to comment.
"Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Boston Bombing Suspect, Has Life Or Death Resting In Attorney General," by Sebastian Murdock for Huffington Post.
He is accused of killing three people and injuring hundreds more in a bombing that shook Boston and the nation.
Now, the decision whether or not to pursue the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may prove complicated in the weeks to come.
The decision lies with Attorney General Eric Holder, who is set to make a decision within the next several weeks. But Holder will have to consider how Americans want to see justice, and how viable the federal death penalty will be considering its slow and often unreliable past.
AP reports, "Prison limits on Boston bombing suspect are eased," via the Boston Herald.
Federal prosecutors have eased limits on defense team visits to Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
In court documents filed Tuesday, prosecutors say the restrictions have been modified to allow several additional people to visit Tsarnaev to help prepare his defense and report back to lawyers on the team. They include a paralegal, a mental health consultant and a specialist who will help the defense prepare arguments against the death penalty.
The mental health consultant and the specialist will be allowed to meet with Tsarnaev without a lawyer accompanying them.
Tsarnaev's defense team had complained that special measures imposed on Tsarnaev impaired their ability to defend him.