HOUSTON, Texas (AA) – The US Supreme Court voted 6-3 on Friday to reinstate the death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Tsarnaev, who is now 28, and his older brother, Tamerlan, detonated two pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, killing 3 people and injuring hundreds others.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after a shootout with police.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured four days later after a massive manhunt by thousands of officers.
Tsarnaev was initially sentenced to death after his conviction in 2015, but the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit threw out that ruling.
However, on Friday, the Supreme Court reversed that Appeals Court decision, claiming the judge in Tsarnaev’s 2015 trial improperly restricted the questioning of prospective jurors, in addition to excluding evidence of a separate triple homicide two years prior to the bombing.
“Dzhokhar Tsarnaev committed heinous crimes,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in court documents. “The Sixth Amendment nonetheless guaranteed him a fair trial before an impartial jury. He received one.”
The ruling does not mean Tsarnaev will be executed in the near future.
US President Joe Biden’s administration opposes capital punishment, despite urging the Supreme Court to reinstate Tsarnaev’s death sentence, and Attorney General Merrick Garland has placed a moratorium on federal executions.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers could push for more appeals lasting beyond Biden’s tenure, which means a decision on whether to execute him could end up in the hands of a future administration.
Tsarnaev was 19 at the time of the bombing, which killed 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, 23-year-old Lingzi Lu, and 8-year-old Martin Richard.
Tsarnaev remains on death row at a supermax prison in Colorado.