The defence team representing the Boston Marathon bombing suspect got a major boost with the addition of a prominent anti-death penalty lawyer who has managed to get life sentences for several high-profile clients,including the Unabomber and the gunman in the rampage that injured a former Arizona congresswoman.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction during the April 15 marathon. Three people were killed and more than 260 injured when two bombs exploded near the finish line.
A judge yesterday approved the appointment of death penalty expert Judy Clarke to defend 19-year-old Tsarnaev. But judge Marianne Bowler denied,at least for now,a request from Tsarnaev’s public defender,Miriam Conrad,to appoint a second death penalty lawyer David Bruck,a professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers could renew their motion to appoint another death penalty expert if he is indicted,the judge said.
Clarke’s clients have included the Unabomber,Ted Kaczynski; Susan Smith,a woman who famously drowned her two children; Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph; and most recently Jared Loughner,who shot former Rep Gabrielle Giffords in the head. All received life sentences instead of the death penalty.
Clarke has rarely spoken publicly about her work and did not return a call seeking comment yesterday. However,at a speech on Friday at a legal conference in Los Angeles,she talked about how she had been “sucked into the black hole,the vortex” of death penalty cases 18 years ago when she represented Smith.
“I got a dose of understanding human behaviour,and I learned what the death penalty does to us,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a secret that I oppose the death penalty.”
Bruck has directed Washington and Lee’s death penalty defence clinic,the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse,since 2004.