NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – It was 2001 when attorney David Hoose defended VA nurse Kristin Gilbert in her murder trial. She was accused of killing four patients by overdose, and faced the death penalty since the murders happened on federal property. Through mitigation, the defense presented a different side of Gilbert: a mother whose sons would be devastated by her execution. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyers are also trying to show a different side of the then-19-year-old.
“We now know the adolescent brain doesn’t develop until the mid 20s. There’s going to be a lot of emphasis on his youth and on his impressionability,” Hoose said.
That means we can expect to hear more about Tamerlan — Tsarnaev’s radicalized, perhaps mentally ill, violent older brother. Hoose said jurors must also look beyond Tsarnaev, to the consequences his execution might have.
“We create a martyr. Does he become the next recruiting tool for ISIS or al Qaeda or the next group that’s looking to radicalize young Muslim men,” Hoose added.
If Tsarnaev is sentenced to life in prison, he’d probably go to the Supermax, a notorious highest security prison that’s housed the Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols and unabomber Ted Kaczynski.
“One of the former wardens there referred to it as a clean version of hell. It’s in Colorado but he would never know he’s in Colorado,” he said.
The penalty phase is going to be like a whole new trial in a way, and this same 12-person jury will deliberate again — this time, possibly longer than 11 hours. Hoose said it’ll depend whether the judge instructs them he’ll impose a life sentence if they cannot come to an agreement.