Watch CBS News

Could The Richard Family's Death Sentence Views Save Tsarnaev's Life?

BOSTON (CBS) - US Attorney Carmen Ortiz made it clear the Richards' position was no surprise to her. She spoke with the family early on in the case, and has known their views all along. "As I have previously assured both Bill and Denise, I care deeply about their views and the views of other victims and survivors. As the case moves forward we will continue to do all we can to protect and vindicate those injured and those who have passed away."

Former US Attorney Michael Sullivan says the jury will likely get a chance to hear from the Richards in the sentencing phase. One of the criteria jurors need to consider for the death penalty, is victim Martin Richard's young age. If the Richards are called to testify, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's defense would probably ask how a death sentence would affect the family. Their answer could save Tsarnaev's life.

Richard Family
Jane Richard with her father Bill, mother Denise and brothers Henry (middle) and Martin (right). (Photo courtesy: Richard Family Blog)

History shows Bill and Denise Richard's fears about the process dragging on are legitimate. Serial killer Gary Lee Sampson was sentenced to death after he killed three people in 2001. After a problem with a juror came to light, he now has to be re-sentenced. Sullivan prosecuted his case. "So the victims' family members have suffered almost 14 years, trying to see justice served in that particular case."

Former Boston Police Commissioner and WBZ analyst Ed Davis has said he would be in favor of a death sentence. Philosophically, that hasn't changed, but the Richard family has him thinking again. "I think ultimately it should be the jury's responsibility, but I think this is a moving situation that again the Richard family is looking out for the best interest of their children, and that's a compelling argument."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.