Federal capital prosecutions

Executioner Ashcroft, by Eleanor Mill

The federal government has rarely sought the death penalty within Massachusetts. Between 1812 and 1835, twenty men were executed within Massachusetts by the United States government, all for piracy. Since that time, the United States has only sought the death penalty in Massachusetts in three instances, but all within the last ten years and all cases which were covered by state law - pursued by the federal government for the primary purpose of obtaining a death sentence.

  • Kristen Gilbert, a nurse at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northampton, was charged with killing four patients at the hospital in 1995 and 1996. Gilbert was convicted in 2001 of first-degree murder in the deaths of three veterans. She also was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of the fourth, and of trying to kill two others in her care. Her jury opted for a sentence of life in prison instead of death. read more
  • On January 29, 2004, Gary Lee Sampson was sentenced to death in US District Court in Boston, for the carjacking and murder of Philip McCloskey and Jonathan Rizzo during a weeklong rampage in 2001. This was the first death sentence imposed in Massachusetts in over three decades and the first federal death sentence in the Commonwealth since the 19th century. read more
  • Branden Morris and Darryl Green were charged with capital murder in aid of racketeering for the August 2001 killing of Terrell Gethers, but the charges were dropped in favor of murder charges in state court in 2006. read more
Here is press coverage on federal capital cases: