crimesider

Will Tsarnaev face death? Decision expected in early 2014

Part of a series: Crimesider's cases to watch in 2014

Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to announce whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty against accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev by Jan. 31, 2014, CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman told Crimesider.

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Klieman said that if the government decides to pursue the death penalty, the defense’s objective will be to get a plea to life imprisonment.

 “This U.S. Attorney’s Office is going to be particularly sensitive to the desires of the victims,” Klieman said. “There are many victims in this case who will feel that [Tsarnaev] should get death; there are other victims in this case who will feel, for a variety of reasons… that he should get life.”

Klieman said if there isn’t a guilty plea in the case, the trial is likely to last nine months. 

Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to a 30-count federal indictment that includes charges of using a weapon of mass destruction.

Authorities say Tsarnaev, 20, and his brother Tamerlan, 26, built two pressure-cooker bombs and placed them near the Marathon finish line. The April 15, 2013, explosions killed three people and wounded more than 260. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a shootout with police several days after the bombings.

  • Stephanie Slifer On Twitter»

    Stephanie Slifer covers crime and justice for CBSNews.com.

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