Today was the beginning of jury selection for the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev federal trial, and that’s going to be dominating the news for a while. especially here in Boston. I heard some interesting commentaries this morning about why it might have made much more sense for the federal prosecutors not to be seeking the death penalty for Tsarnaev.
The first reason is that, with the overwhelming evidence against him, the government could have gotten a plea agreement for lifetime imprisonment without parole, and could have spared us all the expense and also the circus atmosphere of the trial.
Although I think some people want the circus to come to town.
The second reason is that executing him would likely just turn him into a martyr, into a cause célèbre. That takes the focus off the victims and creates a recruitment tool for the psychos out there who want to follow in his footsteps. You know, ISIS and their ilk, and we’re not talking Egyptian Goddesses here.
The final reason is that, because the defense has filed repeated motions for change of venue and delay in proceedings so that they can find an unbiased jury pool and manage the thousands of pages of documents the government has recently turned over, and these motions have repeatedly been turned down, there is a danger that the appeals of this case could just drag on and on and on. Judge Juan R. Torruella has raised that possibility in his cogent dissent in the appeal decided just last week.
At great expense to all of us, by the way, and without any clear payoff.
Personally, I’d rather see Dzhokhar spend the rest of his life in prison and become an old man filled with regret. Just as the women from the Manson murders became old women filled with regret. They eventually became a cautionary tale for others, and so could Dzhokhar. By becoming old. And feeble. And irrelevant. And filled with regret. And longing for the freedom that was once his.