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World News

U.S. to ask top court to restore Boston Marathon bomber Tsarnaev's death sentence

FILE PHOTO: Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is pictured in this file handout photo presented as evidence by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston, Massachusetts on March 23, 2015. U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston/Handout via Reuter

BOSTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday it will ask the nation’s top court to reinstate Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s death sentence for helping carry out the 2013 attack that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling in Boston said that after considering victims’ views, the department had decided to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review an appellate court’s July 31 decision to order a new death penalty phase trial for Tsarnaev.

“Our hope is that this will result in reinstatement of the original sentence and avoid a retrial of the death penalty phase,” Lelling said in a statement.

His statement came after U.S. Attorney General William Barr told the Associated Press the department will “do whatever’s necessary” and continue to pursue the death penalty, a position consistent with President Donald Trump’s views.

Victims have been divided over seeking the death penalty, and David Patton, Tsarnaev’s lawyer, had argued prosecutors should allow “closure” by permitting a life prison sentence.

In its ruling, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that a trial judge “fell short” in conducting the jury selection process and screening jurors for potential bias following pretrial publicity.

Tsarnaev, 27, and his older brother, Tamerlan, sparked five days of panic in Boston on April 15, 2013, when they detonated two homemade pressure cooker bombs at the marathon’s finish line and then tried to flee the city.

In the days that followed, they also killed a police officer. Tsarnaev’s brother died after a gunfight with police.

A federal jury in 2015 found Tsarnaev guilty of all 30 counts he faced and later determined he deserved execution for a bomb he planted that killed 8-year-old Martin Richard and 23-year-old Chinese exchange student Lingzi Lu. Restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, 29, was also killed.

Reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Cynthia Osterman, Peter Cooney and Richard Pullin

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