BUFFALO, N.Y. -- For a short window, from 1995 to 2004, the death penalty was reinstated in New York State.
"I was one of five Western New York attorneys that was initially trained to handle death penalty cases," said attorney John Elmore.
In 1998, Elmore was assigned to defend Jonathan Parker in the first death penalty case in Western New York in decades.
"It's the type of case where you don't sleep at night because you have to prepare for two trials," he said.
Parker, 19, was convicted of shooting two Buffalo police officers and killing one of them, but after hearing arguments from both sides, the jury decided to sentence him to life in prison instead of lethal injection.
"Death penalty trials are different. When you have a normal trial, winning is getting your client acquitted. In a death penalty case, winning is saving your client's life," Elmore said.
It's the only death penalty case Elmore ever worked but he said it was one of his most stressful cases. Besides the protests and controversies surrounding it and the fact that a mistake could be the difference between life and death, he said the standard of reasonable doubt changes.
"You can't serve on a death penalty jury unless you believe in the death penalty so there are a lot of people who are liberal, who are minorities, who can't serve because of their views on the death penalty," he said.
James Harrington was assigned to the Parker case as well. Since then, he's worked on federal cases and is currently representing one of the men accused of orchestrating the 9/11 attacks.
"There's always anxiety whenever there's any jury that's out when you try a case and it's probably exaggerated maybe a hundred fold or a thousand fold," Harrington said.
Both attorneys are watching the Boston Marathon Bombing trial with interest. As soon as next week, a jury will decide if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should receive the death penalty for his crimes.
"This is a very difficult case," Harrington said. "It's difficult because of the age of the defendant. It's difficult because of what he has been through and it's difficult because of the enormous number of injuries and the deaths that occurred."
Despite the media attention, the death penalty is a relatively rare occurrence. Tsarnaev would become only the fourth person to receive death in a federal case since 1998.