The Legal Blog


Big Bucks, Frayed Nerves And Slow Progress As Death Spectacles in Boston, Aurora Drag On

Heather Abbott is wearing high heels again, and that’s no small accomplishment.

Almost two years ago, when bombs ripped through crowds near the Boston Marathon finish line, Abbott, a 40-year-old human resources manager, lost her right leg below the knee. It took time, but now she goes stand-up paddle-boarding and has started a foundation to help other amputees.

Time hasn’t been so kind to those who want to see 21-year-old accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev answer for his alleged crimes. Jury selection in the federal death penalty trial drags on, as it does across the country, in Colorado, where the state court trial of accused theater shooter James Holmes simmers in drawn-out jury selection.

A key reason for each trial’s uncertain start date is the death penalty. While there are capital punishment advocates who want to see defendants in both cases pay the ultimate price, nobody denies that the slow progress frays nerves.

“I’m anxious for the whole thing to be over with,” Abbott told HuffPost from Newport, Rhode Island. “It’s almost two years [since the bombing] and that’s a long time.”

Tsarnaev faces a 30-count federal indictment, including 17 charges punishable by death, for his alleged role in the bombings that killed three and wounded 260, plus the fatal shooting of an MIT police officer.

Prosecutors’ choice to seek the death penalty, numerous studies show, nearly guarantees that the trial will be far more expensive than If Tsarnaev were to face a maximum sentence of life without parole.

Unfolding in Colorado is the death penalty trial of James Holmes. He’s accused of killing 12 and wounding 70 during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” on July 20, 2012. From the start, his trial also is destined to be slow and costly.



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