There is a deadline set for Friday in the decision of seeking the death penalty in the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Tsarnaev is the only surviving defendant in the Boston Marathon bombings from April. Three people were killed and 260 were injured. Attorney General Eric Holder will be the one making the decision, according to the Associated Press.
Holder is against capital punishment, but has recommended it 34 times since he was promoted to U.S. Attorney General. When he worked as the U.S. Attorney in Washington, Holder recommended to then-Attorney General Janet Reno that she not pursue the death penalty in a case of a murdered police officer. Reno overruled him, but the death penalty was not awarded.
‘‘The case had problems … and when we had the ability to get a plea from the defendant that put him in jail without any chance of parole for the rest of his life, we decided to accept the plea,’’ Holder explained later to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
During the exact same meeting, Holder told the Senate panel, ‘‘I will enforce the law that has been passed, and any statute that contains a death penalty provision will be looked at as any other statute. I will enforce the law as this Congress gives it to us.’’
Holder recently recommended the death sentence once while six others received life sentences.
David Schertler spoke to the AP about Holder. Schertler worked as the chief of the homicide section when Holder was the head of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, D.C.
He said that Holder had ‘‘a lot of experience with the death penalty and he has always been extremely thoughtful, deliberate and concerned about being consistent on the subject.”
Holder said last week that he opposes the death penalty because of practical issues.
‘‘The problem is that in too many places, lawyers who are defending poor people don’t have adequate resources to do a good job,’’ Holder said while speaking at the University of Virginia last week. ‘‘You end up with these miscarriages of justice.’’
‘‘It’s really one of the reasons why I am personally opposed to the death penalty,’’ Holder added. ‘‘As good as our system is, it’s ultimately a system that is filled with men and women who are well intentioned but who make mistakes. And as horrible as it is for somebody to be put in jail for crimes that they did not commit, it is obviously not as bad as a situation where somebody is executed for a crime that he or she did not commit.’’