Kristen Gilbert lawyer discusses Tsarnaev case

Former nurse faced possibility of death penalty for VA hospital killings

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – If Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev receives a guilty verdict in his federal trial, he could receive the death penalty

Capital punishment was abolished in Massachusetts decades ago, but this is a federal case, and government prosecutors can seek the death penalty in cases where they believe it is appropriate; regardless of whether the crime took place in a non-death penalty state.

To find out how Tsarnaev’s defense will represent their client, 22News spoke with Northampton lawyer David Hoose, who represented former nurse Kristen Gilbert back in 2001. Gilbert killed four patients in her care at the VA Medical Center in Leeds, by overdosing them with medicine. Prosecutors had sought the death penalty, but a federal jury sentenced her to life in prison instead.

Hoose said that the defense will likely talk about Tsarnaev’s past.

“The word that you’re going to hear a lot in watching the Tsarnaev trial is ‘mitigation,’ and what the courts have held is pretty much anything related to the defendant’s background or the circumstances of the crime can be considered in mitigation,” Hoose said.

Mitigating factors in this case could include not having a violent criminal past before the bombing, the possibility that the defendant was influenced by his older brother Tamerlan, and the fact that he is only 19-years-old.

Tuesday was the second day of jury selection in Tsarnaev’s trial, which is set to move to the next phase at the end of this month.

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