Dead Man Walking Nun to Testify at Tsarnaev Trial

As debate turns to what Boston bomber could expect at Colorado's Supermax
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2015 7:01 AM CDT
Updated May 7, 2015 7:30 AM CDT
Dead Man Walking Nun to Testify at Tsarnaev Trial
This undated file photo released Friday, April 19, 2013, by the FBI shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.   (AP Photo/FBI, File)

The nun and death-penalty foe behind Dead Man Walking is due to testify in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's sentencing trial today and defense attorneys hope she portrays the death penalty as an unjust punishment for the 21-year-old. Sister Helen Prejean, who developed a close relationship with Louisiana death row inmate Patrick Sonnier before his execution in 1984, is one of two witnesses left to testify for the defense, though federal prosecutors plan to file a motion to bar her from taking the stand, NBC News reports. With Prejean in mind, talk has already turned to where Tsarnaev would end up should he get life in prison.

  • NBC News reports Tsarnaev is likely to spend the rest of his life at Colorado's Supermax—described in a recent lawsuit—if the jury rules against the death penalty. There, under special conditions, he could get two 15-minute phone calls per month and visits from parents and siblings only, according a former warden of a death-row prison in Indiana. Testifying for the defense, he argued Tsarnaev would be shut out from the rest of the world at the prison, where inmates spend about 23 hours a day in isolation, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Tsarnaev's lawyers are suggesting such a fate is nearly on par with execution.
  • Attempting to bolster their case for the death penalty, prosecutors noted inmates are subject to special administrative measures which can be renewed annually, challenged by inmates, and are often lifted via a "step-down process," a prosecutor said. The prosecution also took issue with the defense's aerial photo of the prison covered in snow, which made it look like it was "an extremely forlorn, forbidding institution," per the Boston Globe. Prosecutors aruge there's no guarantee Tsarnaev will end up at the Supermax, or that he won't be moved from it in the future.
(More Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stories.)

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