Leading ‘anti-death penalty’ lawyer, Judy Clarke, to defend Boston bombings suspect

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Judy Clarke has secured life sentences instead of the death penalty for high profile clients

New York

A prominent American defence lawyer known for successfully helping some of the country’s most notorious criminals avoid the death penalty has joined the legal team representing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the Boston marathon bombings.

Judy Clarke’s former clients include Jared Lee Loughner, who was sentenced to life in prison for killing six people and wounding 13, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, in a shooting rampage in Tuscon, Arizona. She also represented Theodore Kaczynski, the so-called ‘Unabomber’, who avoided death and was locked up for life on charges related to a domestic bombing spree.

Her newest client, 19-year-old Dzhokhar, was captured following a massive manhunt on 19 April, days after two pressure-cooker bombs allegedly planted by him and his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan killed three and injured hundreds near the marathon finish in Boston. Tamerlan was killed in the early hours of April 19 following a police chase and a shootout with officers in suburban Boston.

Dzhokhar has since been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction, a reference to the pressure cooker bombs. The chargers could carry the death penalty. Ms Clarke’s appointment was requested by the suspect’s lead lawyer, Miriam Conrad, who heads the local public defender’s office. Ms Conrad is among the country’s most experienced public defenders, counting the convicted British-born “shoe-bomber” Richard Reid, 39, as one of her former clients.

Along with Ms Clarke, Ms Conrad had also requested the appointment of another death penalty expert, David Bruck. For the time being, however, Mr Bruck’s appointment has been denied by Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler, who is presiding over the case.

Last week, days before her appointment was confirmed, California-based Ms Clarke spoke of how she had been “sucked into the black hole, the vortex” of death penalty cases nearly 20 years ago when she represented Susan Smith, who was convicted of killing her two children in the mid-90s. Smith was sentenced to life behind bars.

“I got a dose of understanding human behaviour and I learned what the death penalty does to us,” she said in a speech at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles on Friday, says the Associated Press. “I don’t think it’s a secret I oppose the death penalty.”

In other developments related to the Boston bombings case, the New York Times reported investigators had obtained DNA from Tamerlan’s widow, Katherine Russell, to compare it to female DNA found on one of the bombs in the attack. Officials however told the Wall Street Journal there could be many explanations for the DNA.

Meanwhile, as the debate continues in Washington about how much US law enforcement knew about Tamerlan after being informed about his changing behaviour by the Russians in 2011, President Obama defended the way the Federal Bureau of Investigation handled the tip. “Based on what I’ve seen so far, the FBI performed its duties.”

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines