Tsarnaev Lawyers Ask Judge to Find Death Penalty Unconstitutional

Lawyers representing accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal judge to declare the federal death penalty unconstitutional in a court filing Wednesday.

The Boston Globe reports:

The attorneys, in a filing in US District Court in Boston, noted that the First US Circuit Court of Appeals had rejected similar arguments raised in the case of serial killer Gary Sampson in 2007. But the attorneys argued that new developments, including changes in the law and public revulsion over events such as the recent botched execution in Oklahoma, argued for US District Judge George A. O'Toole Jr. to take a new look.

"The vulnerability of this particular death penalty prosecution to Eighth Amendment challenge is all the greater in light of recent legal authority and scholarship that cast doubt on the power of the federal government to impose the death penalty in states, like Massachusetts, that have abolished it," the attorneys wrote.

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Prosecutors have previously cited Tsarnaev’s alleged “betrayal of the United States” and the targeting of the Marathon in their legal arguments favoring execution.

They’ve asked the death penalty to be considered for 17 of Tsarnaev’s 30 charges.