Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sentenced to death for bombing Boston Marathon

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sentenced to death.

After 10 weeks of heart-wrenching and often gruesome testimony from more than 150 witnesses, including survivors, a jury sentenced Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to the death penalty for his role in the deadly 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

The government repeatedly showed the jury surveillance video of Tsarnaev dropping a backpack that contained one of the bombs behind the family of 8-year-old Martin Richard, the youngest victim of the bombings, and of him casually buying milk 20 minutes after the attack. They pointed to video of Tsarnaev flashing the middle finger to a security camera in a court holding cell before his July 2013 arraignment as proof that he remains defiant.

The same jurors — seven women and five men — convicted Tsarnaev on April 8 on all 30 counts related to the bombings, including the shooting death of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer days after the attacks. They then heard roughly three weeks of testimony in the penalty phase of the case, in which they were asked to determine whether to sentence Tsarnaev to life in prison without parole or the death penalty for his role in the bombings

Though Tsarnaev pled not guilty, Judy Clarke, his attorney, admitted her client’s role on day one of the first phase of the trial in March and repeatedly reiterated it, right up until the closing statements in the penalty phase. “I’m not asking you to excuse him,” Clark told jurors. “There are no excuses. I’m not asking you for sympathy.”

On Friday, some jurors seemed sympathetic to the defense argument. Three of the 12 jurors said they agreed with the defense’s mitigating argument that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had led his brother down a path of radicalization. Two said they believed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had shown remorse for his crime. But it wasn’t enough. All 12 agreed on the death penalty.

The jury’s decision to condemn Tsarnaev to death was a huge victory for the federal government, who pursued the sentence in spite of misgivings among some victims and family members of those killed. Among the most notable opponents of the death penalty: Richard’s parents, who, in a statement published on the front page of the Boston Globe, pleaded for prosecutors to accept a plea deal of life in prison for Tsarnaev to “end the anguish” of the trial and likely years of appeals. There was also strong opposition from residents of Boston, where many people oppose the death penalty on moral or religious grounds. Even after some of the most heinous testimony in the trial, a WBUR poll of Boston residents found that 62 percent of them favored a life sentence for Tsarnaev.

Tsarnaev will be formally sentenced at a hearing in coming weeks, where victims will be allowed to give impact statements and address the defendant. And Tsarnaev, too, will be given the opportunity to speak — though it’s unclear if he will.

A litany of former teachers and friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev testified that he (Dzhokhar Tsarnaev) always hopes and dreams, how he’d talked about being an engineer or becoming an attorney. But really a shock to them that some one they know too well can commit such an horrific crime of bombing Boston Marathon. If  Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had concentrated, by now he would have graduated with the rest of the class of 2015 at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, which held its commencement ceremonies Friday. But instead, he was in a federal courtroom in Boston, learning that his life was over.

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