After death sentence, Boston bomber jurors keep quiet
Boston — The jurors in the trial of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are lying low after months of being center stage in one of the most closely watched terror trials in the post-9/11 era.
In many high-profile trials, jurors are willing — sometimes even eager — to talk about the case after their verdict is announced.
But the seven women and five men who condemned Tsarnaev to death May 15 have not spoken publicly about their experience and seem in no rush to do so. A clerk for Judge George O’Toole Jr., who presided over the trial, said it’s not clear when he will release the jurors’ names to reporters.
Judges often release the names of jurors publicly in the hours or days after a verdict, making it easy for reporters to contact them. Federal courts have ruled that jurors’ names must eventually be made public after a criminal trial to ensure public trust in the judicial system.
Sometimes jurors will contact the media themselves to talk about the case. But that hasn’t happened in the Tsarnaev case.
The jury deliberated a little over 14 hours before unanimously choosing a death sentence over life in prison for Tsarnaev, a 21-year-old former college student who bombed the marathon with his older brother. Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured when two pressure-cooker bombs exploded near the finish line on April 15, 2013.
Jury consultant Karen Fleming-Ginn said there are many reasons why jurors in the Tsarnaev case would choose not to speak publicly, at least not right away. Some might be waiting because they hope to write a book, while others might just want to put the whole thing behind them, she said.
Some jurors could also be afraid of being criticized for their decision in a state where the death penalty is unpopular. Public opinion polls consistently showed that most Massachusetts residents were opposed to sentencing Tsarnaev to death. Massachusetts abolished the death penalty more than three decades ago. Tsarnaev was prosecuted under the federal death penalty statute.
“In a venue where people don’t have rabid support for the death penalty, there may be people who have strong feelings about their verdict,” said Fleming-Ginn, a jury consultant who provided advice to prosecutors in the trial of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and has consulted for the defense in 61 other capital cases.
The emotional toll of looking at gruesome autopsy photos and hearing heartbreaking testimony from more than a dozen people who were seriously injured in the explosions might also be weighing on the jurors.
“It’s a lot for jurors to go through something like this,” Fleming-Ginn said. “It’s so emotional and oftentimes they are not prepared for it. People don’t sign up for this. It’s kind of a hideous thing to ask of them.”
The jurors have varied backgrounds, according to biographical information they gave during the selection process. One is a former registered nurse who now works as a cake artist. Another is an executive assistant at a law firm. Other jurors include a telecommunications engineer, a restaurant manager and a single mother of four who works for a local school system.
The jury rejected the central element of Tsarnaev’s defense — the claim that his older brother led him down the path to terrorism. Prosecutors said the brothers were equal partners in an attack meant to make a political statement about U.S. actions in Muslim countries.