Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Sentenced To Death For Boston Marathon Bombing

Photo: Robin Young/AP Photo
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death on Friday for his role in the Boston Marathon bombing in a unanimous decision by a twelve-person jury. That same jury earlier found Tsarnaev, 21, guilty on all 30 charges related to the 2013 attack, which killed three people and injured more than 200. Seventeen of those charges carry the death penalty. 
 
The verdict, reached after 14 hours of deliberation, was the culmination of a high-profile two-month trial. It's the first time a federal jury has condemned someone to death in the years following the events of September 11, 2001.

“After all of the carnage and fear and terror that he has caused, the right decision is clear,” said federal prosecutor Steven Mellin in his closing statement. “The only sentence that will do justice in this case is a sentence of death.”

The next step will almost certainly years of appeals. Of the 80 people sentenced to death in federal court since 1988, only three have been executed. All others are involved in lengthy appeals, and many end up dying in prison before their cases are resolved.

Tsarnaev's defense, led by attorney Judy Clarke, didn't seek to prove that Dzhokhar did not carry out the April 15 bombing with his older brother Tamerlan, but rather argued that he should not be put to death for his crime. His lawyers painted Dzhokhar as an impressionable younger brother, 19 at the time of bombing, under the sway of an older sibling. In the final, sentencing phase of the trial, the defense told stories of his childhood (including that he cried during The Lion King) and offered testimony from crying relatives. Sister Helen Prejean, a nun who visited Tsarnaev in prison, said he showed signs of remorse for the crimes. 

The prosecution painted Dzhokhar as a willing co-conspirator, who built and planted the pressure-cooker bombs that exploded at the marathon finish line, and then went to buy some milk, apparently a sign of his lack of a remorse. Prosecutors used computer search histories to suggest that both brothers were heavily indoctrinated by extremist Islam, and showed the manifesto Dzhokhar wrote inside the boat where he was found hiding after a four-day manhunt. 


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