San Diego Attorney Judy Clarke, who is a “renowned death penalty lawyer” has joined the defense team of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Clarke has gained notoriety from defending such criminals as the ” ‘Unabomber’ Ted Kaczynski, Tucson, Ariz., shooter Jared Loughner and Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph.” All received a life sentence rather than the death penalty.
While cautioning it’s far too early to tell whether prosecutors will even seek the death penalty, Clarke’s appointment strengthens the possibility an agreement could be struck guaranteeing Tsarnaev a life sentence without parole.
Team Tsarnaev will be lead by Miriam Conrad, the chief federal public defender for Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
According to federal law, Conrad is entitled to an additional lawyer with death penalty experience to help with the case. Her request for two lawyers was denied. “Lawyers who have handled capital cases say the team’s first priority will likely be to persuade prosecutors to take the death penalty off the table.”
Experts say Conrad is also almost certain to try to suppress statements Tsarnaev allegedly made to investigators before he was advised of his constitutional right to remain silent and seek a lawyer.
Dzokhar Tsarnaev’s next hearing is set for May 30.