Just ahead of jury deliberations in the Boston Marathon bombing trial, a group of Catholic Church leaders from Massachusetts came out against putting accused killer Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death.
“The defendant in this case has been neutralized and will never again have the ability to cause harm,” four bishops said in a statement released Monday. “Because of this, we, the Catholic Bishops of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, believe that society can do better than the death penalty.” The statement was signed by Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, Most Reverend Edgar M. da Cunha, Most Reverend Mitchell T. Rozanski and Most Reverend Robert J. McManus.
Lawyers on both sides of the Boston Marathon bombing trial delivered closing arguments Monday, teeing up the jury to begin deliberations Tuesday morning. And while it is widely expected that Tsarnaev, 21, will be convicted – his defense team conceded their client committed all the crimes of which he is accused – there remains some question as to whether he will be sentenced to death.
In Monday’s closing arguments, defense attorney Judith Clarke made the case that Tsarnaev’s life should be spared because of his late brother’s role in the crime. “We need to understand who was leading and who was following,” Clarke said.
Tsarnaev is accused of carrying out the April 15, 2013, attack and fatally shooting a police officer three days later as he and his brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, tried to flee the city.
The bishops quote Pope Francis’ March 20 remarks to reinforce their stance: “[The death penalty] is an offense against the inviolability of life and the dignity of the human person. When the death penalty is applied, it is not for a current act of oppression, but rather for an act committed in the past. It is also applied to persons whose current ability to cause harm is not current, as it has been neutralized – they are already deprived of their liberty.”