Update, noon: The penalty phase of Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial is has entered its final stage — with the government calling witnesses to rebut the defense’s arguments against the death penalty.

Cut through the acronyms and legalese, and the debate currently playing out at the Tsarnaev’s trial right now is simple: Would life in prison be sufficient punishment for Tsarnaev — or not?

John Oliver, the warden at the maximum-security facility where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could be sent, described reasonably humane conditions, in which prisoners exercise regularly, and staff try to restore inmate phone calls when they’re dropped.

But the defense says that Tsarnaev would be isolated by so-called “Special Administrative Measures” — which would only be removed if the department of justice agreed.

— Adam Reilly


Update, 10:20 a.m.: Lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have rested their case to a jury that will decide whether he should be put to death for the Boston Marathon bombing.

Tsarnaev's lawyers wrapped up their case for life Monday after calling more than 40 witnesses in the penalty phase of his trial. His teachers recalled a sweet, hardworking boy. His Russian relatives wept as they described a kind child with an infectious smile.

The defense argued that his late older brother was the mastermind of the bombings and lured then-19-year-old Dzhokhar into his plan. Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured when bombs exploded near the marathon finish line April 15, 2013.

Prosecutors portrayed Tsarnaev as a heartless terrorist who placed a bomb behind children, killing an 8-year-old boy.

— AP


Update, 10:15 a.m.:

A death penalty opponent made famous in the 1995 movie "Dead Man Walking" says Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev expressed genuine sorrow for the victims of the attacks.

Sister Helen Prejean testified Monday that she began meeting with Tsarnaev in early March at the request of his defense team.

She says she asked him how he felt about what happened to the victims of the bombing. She says he said, "No one deserves to suffer like they did."

Tsarnaev's lawyer asked Prejean what she noticed about his voice when he said the victims didn't deserve to suffer.

Prejean says his voice had pain in it and she believes he was genuinely sorry for what he did.

Prejean is the last witness for the defense.

— AP


Preview: This is Day 30 of the Boston Marathon Bombing trial and it could mark the end of testimony for the defense in the penalty phase.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s attorneys are hoping to call to the stand Sister Helen Prejean, an anti-death penalty advocate who was made famous by the movie "Dead Man Walking." But the government has filed a motion to stop her testimony and Judge George O’ Toole has not ruled on whether it will be allowed.

Prejean has counseled six condemned men and then watched all six go to their deaths in the state of Louisiana where she ‘s based. Her testimony — the Tsarnaev defense team hopes — will prevent another man from being executed at the hands of government—their client.

But the U.S. prosecutor’s office is arguing that Prejean’s possible testimony has no material bearing on this case. The defense says the fact that the 76-year old nun is an anti-death penalty advocate is less important than her expertise on the death penalty itself, which they argue is wholly relevant.

Prejean appeared at the Moakley Courthouse about a week ago. No one knew she was coming. But the defense saw an opportunity in putting on the stand during the penalty phase someone who has become the face of the anti-death penalty movement. She would be the final defense witness in the trial.

If Prejean is allowed to testify it’s believe that O‘Toole will limit what she has to say to a very narrow framework of discussion.

Whatever happens today, the prosecution is preparing to rebut and both sides are gearing up for the end of the Boston Marathon bombing trial. The jury could begin deliberating the question of life in prison or death at the end of this week.