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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's attorney also defended the Unabomber and Jared Loughner

A TV near the site of the Boston Marathon bombing displays Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's picture.
A TV near the site of the Boston Marathon bombing displays Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's picture.
Mario Tama / Getty Images News

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who's accused of bombing the 2013 Boston Marathon, will be defended by Judy Clarke, an attorney who previously defended the Unabomber, Jared Loughner, and other high-profile killers.

The New York Times reported:

Ms. Clarke is famous for cutting deals that keep her clients off death row. At some point in the process, her clients — including Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber; Eric Rudolph, the Olympic Park bomber; and Jared L. Loughner, who killed six people in an assassination attempt on former Representative Gabrielle Giffords — pleaded guilty in exchange for a sentence of life in prison, with no chance of parole.

But here she faces one of her toughest challenges yet: trying to spare the life of a reviled defendant in a case that traumatized and enraged the nation, while federal prosecutors appear determined to put Mr. Tsarnaev to death.

In past defenses, Clarke has emphasized her clients' personal histories to humanize them, the Times reported:

It is during the sentencing phase that Ms. Clarke would make her case to spare Mr. Tsarnaev's life. Typically, her strategy is to burrow deeply into her clients' backgrounds, down to details like their prenatal medical history, to humanize them and help a jury understand what led them to such horrific acts.

The Associated Press in 2013 described Clarke as a "defender of the despised." In a speech reported by the AP, Clarke voiced her opposition to the death penalty, which federal prosecutors are seeking for Tsarnaev.

"I got a dose of understanding human behavior and I learned what the death penalty does to us," Clarke said. "I don't think it's a secret that I oppose the death penalty."

"The first clear way death cases are different is the clients," she added. "Most have suffered from serious severe trauma, unbelievable trauma. We know that from brain research. Many suffer from severe cognitive development issues that affect the core of their being."

Clarke appears to be taking a similar approach to the Tsarnaev trial. She reportedly plans to characterize Tsarnaev, who was 19 at the time of the bombing and held no criminal record, as manipulated into the attack by his older brother. The Times suggested this strategy will likely focus on Tsarnaev's sentence — and specifically on preventing the death penalty.

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