WEEI>On Demand>>Tamar Birckhead on Dzhokhar's trial

Tamar Birckhead on Dzhokhar's trial

Jan 31, 2014|

Tamar Birckhead joined the show to discuss her feelings on the death penalty. Tamar said that the age of Dzhokar should be considered when discussing capital punishment.

Transcript - will not be 100% accurate

830 in Boston. Tamar Birkhead harbored any ill educated is now on associate professor -- -- the university north Carolina at Chapel Hill. Where she teaches the juvenile justice clinic. She was in her previous life a federal public defender in Boston. And in that position abdication represent Richard Reid the failed would be shoe bomber who by the way is now serving eight. Life sentence at the notorious super Max prison in Florence Colorado. The arduous on the AT&T and for the second time by the way we enjoyed our first conversation with her very much even though -- by large disagreed the morning tomorrow or you. Good morning I'm doing well actually I assume. Based on what I think I know what I read about. What you have to say you disagree with the attorney general's. A decision. Yesterday to -- pursue the death penalty in this -- of case. Well I -- him personally. Opposed to capital punishment as is Eric Holder. But according to. You know the grounds that he had to follow. And the attorney general the United States I understand. Why he authorized. The death penalty in in this instance. You don't authorize it. He hasn't that the federal government has not say about 500 times. And I even know. Only treat people have been executed. And this and that mentally. This is not meant to be a flip question it's a series one do they get lost Q school -- I teach you. At encourage you to remove emotion from anything you were doing either as a public defender or a prosecutor. Sure absolutely. In -- Erie YouTube when he got a lot school and entered the bar. You figure out what role. You are most comfortable assuming and so for me for instance becoming. Criminal defense attorney -- public defender. I assumed a role that involved advocate before the person who's charged with a crime. And you have a motion. You can call on it to become -- an effective advocate but it shouldn't. Really hands impact. The decision that you make -- -- -- date basis. I don't know that I would have spoke very. Let ups are I don't know I would have the stuff to do that you have to middle school children and you wrote in a piece in May of 2013. I think of the nineteen year old Joseph Carr a college sophomore and Russian immigrant. Who likely helped -- older brother bring about the destruction and loss of life resulting from the bombings in Boston. He has got. With a still developing brain he has friends he -- eight Twitter account and many of the other trappings of ordinary kids in America. In the weeks and months to come we will ask ourselves why did -- -- of do this. What that they hope to accomplish what is a just penalty for a nineteen year old. If I had to middle school kids I don't think I could separate the emotion of that compartmentalize and write something so. And Puerto sympathetic but attempting to be understanding of a nineteen year old whose brain has yet to fully developed. Well. -- -- -- alternatives for him is. Life in prison without parole hold which is a freebie. Serious severe punishment. And moved. You know it it that seems. That he's hitting particularly. In a case like this. Where he was. So young I mean I understand that Eric Holder. Relies at least that's what I've read the fact that I get when they interviewed him he didn't really show any remorse -- much remorse. And of course there's the tragedy has. The eight year old -- being killed. And I think that drove the decision to ask forget in this. Instance I had. You know there's a lot to be said. On the other side didn't of course from Massachusetts. You know the majority is you couldn't then are against capital. Been honest about this absolutely that's that's not true and in this particular case. It's absolutely not true seem polls 8220 edict in what a -- was a fifteen years ago was 54. 35 in favor of the death in a referendum. And a vote of our citizens. It is just nonsense that I assume you read in the globe. But just a quick question before you have some Kirkland to -- you mentioned the eight year old boy. Who was murdered by this -- nineteen year old with a developing brain. Do you know his name. I I do know is we -- and I know you're you're testing me here. Questions have been tougher on this -- Richard. Yes US you actually wrote it wrong in the -- wrote in May and by the way the reference to I think of the victims particularly old Richard Martin. Was -- paragraph after you talked about the still developing brain of the nineteen girl so. Whatever that's -- what does it what does it. Chafee didn't get that in and that's not. That's not okay. The age though though the legal ages eighteen right you're eighteen years old you're eligible this is why he's standing trial so what does it matter if he's -- cities that you claim his brain is still developing he's looked at as an adult I'm sitting there. As a juror I'm looking and complete these adult what does that -- I don't even know the spread is still developing why should that be a factor. Well because you know you need to consider. Culpability. You know he should EB. Held at the same standard. And an older person. So let me just coming across Europe and -- I'm service and a. And you know should. Should that. Should we take that into account that the mitigating factors. The fact that he was only nineteen. The fact that he was. Possibly. Working under the pressure. And that the direction of the folder rather. Those will be considered mitigating factors and he on a jury and they capital jury of course. To become eligible to sit on the jury like that you have to be willing to impose death. So you know everybody's gonna sit on that jury is that they are not going to be people like me who are. Morally and ethically opposed to. The state executing people. Also if you're on that jury of six -- -- Nigeria OK and you presume he's guilty get all the evidence you think this guy's absolutely guilty what was your recommendations. Well it's hot it's impossible to say from this one person like you're gonna listen I -- into. All of the evidence that the state what can now that's why in this particular case debt is. Appropriate. And I listened -- the defense. And mitigation you know BHF. Concerning as the mental status lack of criminal history. It is family history. You know they're gonna there's been a lot of -- Friday if we get to this point and I seriously doubt that it will. But it -- -- points are gonna wanna show let you know three dimensional. Picture. This young man. And -- appeal to the humanity. The jurors. And and interestingly. One and stat that you might not be aware of -- of the past hundred people -- been executed in this country more than a third were under 25. And when he were under 21. Which from my mind. Says you know that when you're under 25. -- -- You might be more inclined to commit horrific horrible. Unforgivable lack. And your you know your brain essentially -- -- that's not an excuse that the fact. You were there for me is unforgivable were talking with Tamar Birkhead and associate professor of law at university of north Carolina at Chapel Hill hum and for the record. Joseph Carr and his brother killed four people not just Martin Richard I know you know that. But they -- injured and maimed dozens and killed by the way a police officer excuse and -- which knows but my question do you Tamar is. What you feel differently about joke harsh punishment. If Martin Richard -- your middle school child. Ike -- couldn't you know the god forbid. I couldn't put myself in in that position. But. You know and and move. It's it's an impossible question. Just having you would want him dead and that's okay I I I think it's an unfair question because you can't. I would want if if the penalty if the it didn't messed up my son's hair I'd want you know amended the idea that you wouldn't want -- -- -- if you kill your child is ridiculous you would want that right tomorrow. I I again I -- I'd want and I didn't tell us all feel that I would any human being but I can't I. I have lived my life believing that we are all. More and there's very worst thing he's done even when that we're seeing is unforgivable. And life in prison without parole. Is not a cakewalk. It is a perfectly. Appropriate. Response for the government. Can have two words. A case -- this. This is his legal team is already complained that he doesn't get to watch TV he doesn't get to socialize with -- other inmates I'm not sure they have pointed them. America correctly or not but you would be. A supportive of his case of his cause it to get more rights in prison though wouldn't you. Well I think. You know we have a responsibility. In the United States to treat our prisoners humanely. I don't know the details of the conditions of his confinement currently. But I have great faith -- Miriam Conrad. And the folks that the federal defender office -- Judy Clarke who as a mother. Lawyer on their team she's one of the nation's top defense lawyers in death penalty cases. Ask your question about her right. Right and whatever makes took -- comfortable as what they're in favor of but I I I got -- considers question. We have a constitutional right to a defense right too zealous defense correct yeah do we have a constitutional right to have the team. A highly paid lawyers with the taxpayers pick up the tab to have a constitutional right to it death penalty specialist. Who flies in from -- a San Diego whenever they need her and -- it to the taxpayers is that constitutional. Eat it if it first of all they're not highly paid I was in that office said the federal defender in assisting federal defender. -- Is not highly paid. At all do you think it's still legal tab will be north of a millionaire it was to be more than a million as legal. Backed her legal fees in past cases. She has returned them to the state. So that they can be used. For the defense of other poor people who are facing charges. But that caught your -- here right the cost of prosecuting a capital case is astronomical. Not just. We need to -- the salaries were defense attorneys but the colors to the prosecutors the experts it's better it's gonna take years. We need to cut at all it on the taxpayers. And we agree that is a problem the solution is to make it shorter to make it cheaper to make it shorter to tell me as. A right to wait an attorney one attorney one public defender that's what our founding fathers envisioned I'm -- Well I I I disagree didn't envision a US attorney's office that has. Unlimited resources to prosecute a case and we're talking about license so why did you already said David and Goliath. Oh it is so you tell me the prosecuting attorney makes less. Then he. Defense salary all about the -- thought they had unlimited -- FBI they have. In. Eighteen yes I mean they've got. Every. Federal. Investigative agency. To listen to them and huge office. -- about what any individual make. -- Right there weekly paycheck you think it matters that. Joseph Carr -- -- -- has a Twitter account. I went. I was trying to attempting it may be that doing it you're trying to human to human. Life -- -- -- if you look at college student. Who you know. He's not an animal. Yes I'm in Harlem model yeah. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- I I have. I true I had when I do my work and that is why it's a privilege to represent. People charged with crimes. I I do my best to try to beat the humanity in every single client I had an -- -- on his defense team I would. Do it then as well I didn't Richard Reid. It's it's essential. To providing -- with effective assistance of counts. Can Richard Reid didn't kill anyone -- No -- did not and that's fine you know if you maintain any contact with Richard Reid as his defense attorney and always doing life -- the super Max. Yet you know I I I haven't since I left the federal defender office. About ten years ago I I have not been in any touch with the. I less question can you can you name the other three victims you got Richard Martin all -- you can -- I mean some of them even at Twitter accounts. Roommates. They weren't had some on the -- fully developed brains too crazy about some must think of them as human what's crazy road to tomorrow some of these victims is like their parents were divorced and they didn't even pay a lot of attention will they still -- didn't it didn't get a bunch of people. I -- if the government were to kill. Joker card Saturday has unfortunately. That won't bring back. Nobody said it would people. It's possible that. That put him in jail for the rest that is 260 people that go to jail for the rest of us like say when that same thing so we let the water. Then -- I further surely we've developed. Past that outfit as a society yet the culture. This is called justice there is his crimes were so heinous there's only one thing that would bring justice in this case and that would be putting this animal down. I don't know it's hard to grasp. For that may -- four -- a jury. To determine that's not for -- to decide. And we'll see -- that I think it's going to be resolved short of trial. Eyewitness I have to offer why would you make a plea why would you make a deal with them. Well. That's 500. Cases where the federal government has authorized death. Only three people have been executed to the odds are. Very very strongly in his favor. And what would they say they've saved the trauma of the trial not every victim. Family wants to go through that look or feel the need to countries that. Eight save money time energy they could bring about closure. Not not true closure but. Force. -- the families of victims and family because of people who have been severely bad. Injured. Having the Haiti itself the criminal case ended. Can provide some small modicum of -- let's. It and move on line. So there's a lot obviously given how many how few cases. Has resulted in an execution. That there's a lot bear for the government. That you -- come to some sort of plea agreement. Agreeing to life in prison without parole. The -- -- with fourth things -- Richard crystal Campbell Lingus to Lou and Sean collier the policeman who was. Killed murdered execution style we appreciate your input and the divergent point of view thanks for -- -- time. Sure -- -- -- -- Tamar Birkhead from a university of north Carolina at chapel. Which was gonna get the answered you know a -- -- -- -- -- to help yeah but it and I think some of them on Twitter accounts to yeah. It's hard to believe and I and I think you got it Margaret Ray was still developing. Would you grace you know in illegals -- as we call -- Richard -- -- you -- I was close. And eight years old. And she has been called to mention that -- and -- rain wasn't fully developed. And murder an eight year old get ready for every day eagerness trial period if it gets shootings or not that's going to be the Janet Reitman to Marbury did defense that's -- -- -- gash below -- armed at Bethpage will be The Daily Show about a -- for this. She ultimatum fighting -- wishing bad I don't know I read somewhere I have bad bad news that Tamar Berk have this on Twitter. Sadler report its we'll be right back -- look at. He's not an animal.

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