Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will have the opportunity to address the court on Wednesday before he is formally sentenced to death but the question is, will he take the opportunity to speak?
The 21-year-old convicted terrorist has yet to publicly open his mouth following his arrest for the heinous bombing that took the life of three people and injured 264 others on April 15, 2013, except to plead not guilty to the charges.
Now, following his sentencing to death in May, Tsarnaev is due back in Boston Federal Court. But legal experts believe that he has nothing to gain from speaking out and that his lawyer will most likely advise him not to.
“It is highly unlikely that he will speak and it will not do him any good if he speaks now. Any direct expression will sound disingenuous given his silence throughout the trial,” said Suffolk University Associate Law Professor Chris Dearborn. Dearborn went on to say that speaking out would accomplish nothing for his appeals going forward.
“In theory it could be beneficial if he was seeking commutation of his death sentence from the president. But I think it is more unlikely and almost impossible given the politically charged nature of the event that any president would consider commuting him,” Dearborn said.
Tsarnaev was found guilty this spring on all 30 charges against him, 17 of which carried the potential for the death penalty. He carried out the attack with his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was later killed during a shootout with police in Watetown. T
Survivors of the attack and family members of the three people who died in the bombing, as well as the family of the MIT police officer who the pair shot dead three days later, will have an opportunity to speak at Wednesday’s formal sentencing.
“This is the first death penalty sentencing in our collective memory, but we know the end result even if we don’t know whats going to take place,” Criminal Defense Attorney Harvey Silverglate said. “It’s a bit like a three act play with a conclusion audience knows in advanced.”
This phase of the trial allows for one unpredictable element: The judge. George O’Toole will have the chance to speak his mind for the first time throughout the duration of the trial.
“Obvious that the judge has been pro prosecution and pro death penalty,” Silverglate said. “He’s not constrained by the expectations of law protocol in his remarks during the sentencing.”
Silverglate said that the rest of the procedure will be fairly predictable seeing how many victims have already spoken and there is no reason for Tsarnaev to speak.
Tsarnaev is set to be put to death by lethal injection in the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. But the judge’s sentencing doesn’t mean Tsarnaev, 21, will face imminent death. Defense attorneys will likely appeal the sentence, a process that can take years.
Stay with Metro for updates from court Wednesday morning.