A federal jury has found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty in the Boston Marathon trial in Boston. The verdict followed weeks of dramatic testimony in the trial. A guilty verdict was almost a certainty. The case was submitted to the jury on Tuesday. CNN’s legal analyst Danny Cevallos discussed the trial and the likely outcome in this report, recorded shortly after the jury began deliberations on the case.
Cevallos opines that getting a not guilty verdict was never an option for the defense in this case. “A defense lawyer who tries to get a not guilty verdict in a case like this probably isn’t using the right strategy.” Cevallos says that the defense team in this case sensibly focused their efforts during the guilt phase of the trial on laying the groundwork for the strategies they would pursue during the guilt phase of the trial “after the almost certain guilty verdict,” which in fact occurred.
Because the death penalty is an option in the case, the same jury will reconvene in the near future to hear evidence and consider whether the defendant should be put to death. Cevallos explains that it was never an option for the defense team to seriously contend that their client was not involved in the bombings. “There was just too much evidence that he was involved.”
Cevallos says that the defense got an unfavorable ruling from the judge early on in the case when the judge limited their efforts to develop, through cross-examination, the theory that brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev was the prime mover in the bombings. “However, they will almost certainly introduce that kind of evidence in the penalty phase.” The rather short defense (four witnesses) concentrated on showing the jury that Tamerlan’s fingerprints “were literally and figuratively all over this case.”
Cevallos feels that the defense team did a terrific job. The groundwork they laid in the guilt phase will become evident in the penalty phase. Because of more relaxed rules of evidence in that part of the trial, the defense will be allowed to bring in evidence that Tarmerlan was the main force in the bombings and that Dzhokhar was an impressionable young man led on by his brother. That sort of evidence might persuade a jury to spare the defendant’s life. According to KBUR, Boston’s NPR station, the penalty phase will commence next week.
Danny Cevallos is an attorney and the co-founder of Cevallos & Wong, LLP, a Philadelphia-based law criminal defense and civil litigation law firm. He is also a legal analyst for CNN and HLN. Danny is also admitted to practice law in New York, New Jersey, the District Court of Puerto Rico, and the United States Supreme Court, along with a number of federal district courts and circuit courts of appeal, including the United States Supreme Court. Danny practices primarily in the Philadelphia area, and also in the state and territorial courts of the United States Virgin Islands. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.