For the past five years, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — the surviving Boston Marathon bomber — has been sitting on death row at a supermax prison in Colorado.
In 2015, the Kyrgyz-American terrorist was tried and convicted of planting two homemade pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, which killed three people and injured approximately 280 others.
Dzhokhar confessed to carrying out the bombings with his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev — who was injured in a police shootout four days after the terrorist attack and subsequently died at the hospital. Now, half a decade later, the younger Tsarnaev is trying to avoid execution at all costs.
What happened to the Boston bomber?
In December 2019, Dzhokhar’s lawyers argued that the 26-year-old’s death penalty sentence should be overturned on the grounds that their client didn't receive a fair trial. The appeal states that the trial should not have been held in Boston due to intense media coverage surrounding the case and claims there were multiple errors in jury selection.
The former nursing student’s legal team also asserted that the judge improperly excluded evidence demonstrating that Tamerlan was the clear mastermind behind the bombings and Dzhokhar had acted under his influence.
The appeal process could take years and effectively stall any plans for an execution. But according to Bob Hood, the former warden of the prison where Dzhokhar is being held, life in solitary confinement is far worse than death.
"If you really look for punishment and retribution, you’re better off with him going to the supermax for the rest of his life," he told the Boston Herald following Dzhokhar’s appeal. "It’s way worse than getting a needle in the arm and expiring within minutes."
Hood revealed the bomber spends 23 hours a day in a 7-by-12-foot cell that contains a cement bed, desk, stool, metal toilet/sink, and a shower. "Trust me, he is going in the box of the box of the box of the box," the longtime correctional officer shared. "It’s not designed for humanity."
Even if his sentence is downgraded to life in prison, Hood said it’s unlikely Dzhokhar would ever be transferred to a different facility. "He’d be dead in 24 hours," the retired U.S. Department of Justice employee stated.
"The nature of his offense hits home with all the inmates, and there will always be someone out there who would love to smack this kid in the head. No one’s going to forget the marathon bomber."
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev expressed remorse before he was sentenced to death.
Though he remained silent throughout most of the trial, Dzhokhar admitted his guilt and offered up an apology before his sentence was handed down on June 24, 2015. "If there is any lingering doubt, let there be no more. I did it, along with my brother," he said, adding, "I ask Allah to have mercy on me, my brother, and my family."
In response to the victim impact statements read earlier in the day, Dzhokhar said, "I am sorry for the lives that I've taken, for the suffering that I've caused you, for the damage that I've done. Irreparable damage… I pray for your relief, for your healing, for your well-being, for your strength."