Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will face the death penalty for his role in the Boston Marathon bombing if the U.S. has its way, Attorney General Eric Holder saod today.
He was arrested for the blasts last April that killed three people, injured more than 260 others, and sent a wave of shock and fear through Massachusetts.
Prosecutors notified a federal judge in Boston today of the decision.
“After consideration of the relevant facts, the applicable regulations and the submissions made by the defendant’s counsel," Holder said in a statement.
"I have determined that the United States will seek the death penalty in this matter. The nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm compel this decision."
With the authorization, the U.S. attorney’s office can move forward in requesting a trial date. The death penalty can also now be a factor in any plea negotiations.
Tsarnaev, 20, faces 30 federal charges for setting off the April 15 bombs that plunged the region into terror for five days, until his arrest in Watertown, Mass.
His older brother and alleged accomplice, Tamerlan, 26, was killed in a firefight with police the night before Dzhokhar was caught in a massive manhunt.
Krystle Campbell, 29, Lingzi Lu, 23, and Martin Richard, 8, were killed at the site of the marathon bombing; incredibly, the toll was not much higher.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev also faces state charges in the fatal shooting of MIT Police Officer Sean Collier, who authorities say he murdered as he tried to flee the area.
Prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty for 16 of the charges Tsarnaev faces, and they would prove the following factors, as required by law:
- That the killings and injuries were intentional
- That Tsarnaev willingly took part in the acts that resulted in death
- That he knew they could end in death
The prosecutors also cited other factors that would allow for the death penalty:
- That death occurred during the commission of another crime
- That the crime itself created a grave risk of death
- That there was planning involved
- That there were multiple killings and vulnerable victims
- That there was a “heinous, cruel and depraved manner of committing the offense”
Time will tell what sentence he actually receives, and how the trial process will play out, but at least on paper, he certainly checks all the boxes.