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President Trump calls for death penalty in Tsarnaev case

President Trump called a federal appeals court’s ruling to overturn the death sentence of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev “ridiculous” at a campaign event with Florida sheriffs on the Tampa International Airport tarmac on Friday.
President Trump called a federal appeals court’s ruling to overturn the death sentence of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev “ridiculous” at a campaign event with Florida sheriffs on the Tampa International Airport tarmac on Friday.SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

On Sunday, President Trump called for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to receive the death penalty again, in reaction to a US Court of Appeals ruling Friday that had vacated the Boston Marathon bomber’s death sentence and called for a new penalty phase trial.

The president tweeted several times on Sunday – first early in the morning, and then later in the afternoon – in response to the decision.

Trump wrote that “rarely has anybody deserved the death penalty more” than Tsarnaev, citing the number of lives “lost and ruined” as a result of the 2013 bombing, which killed three and injured more than 260. Sean Collier, an MIT police officer, was also killed by Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan later that week.

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The president also wrote in a tweet that the federal government “must again” pursue the death penalty “in a do-over of that chapter of the original trial.”

“Our Country cannot let the appellate decision stand,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Also, it is ridiculous that this process is taking so long!”

The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit on Friday vacated Tsarnaev’s death penalty sentence because of potential juror bias in the high-profile 2015 trial, pushing for a new penalty phase trial to determine if he’ll get the death penalty. The court, however, upheld the convictions that will keep Tsarnaev in prison for life.

“Just to be crystal clear,” the court wrote, “Dzhokhar will remain confined to prison for the rest of his life, with the only question remaining being whether the government will end his life by executing him.”

Sunday wasn’t the first time Trump had weighed in on the decision. On Friday afternoon, he called the court’s ruling “ridiculous” on the Tampa International Airport tarmac in Florida.

“I see in Boston, where you have the animal that killed so many people during the Boston Marathon, they just sent his conviction for the death penalty back to the lower courts,” he said. “So they’ll argue about that for a long time. It’s ridiculous. Think of that. It’s ridiculous.”

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Trump’s comments Friday on the decision came as he attacked his Democratic rival Joe Biden for opposing “the death penalty, even for cop killers and child murderers.”

The former vice president supported the death penalty for most of his political career, but last year called for eliminating it at the federal level and offering incentives for states to follow suit.

In July, the Trump administration’s Justice Department carried out three executions in four days after a Supreme Court ruling allowed them to proceed. Prior to that, three people had been executed by the federal government in the past three decades, according to the Bureau of Prisons.


Globe correspondent Shannon Larson contributed to this report. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.


Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.