Boston Marathon Bomber Sentenced To Death

by Kim Lyons

On Friday afternoon, a jury reached a verdict on the fate of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of two men responsible for the devastating Boston bombings exactly two years and one month ago. The jury had deliberated for roughly 15 hours about whether Tsarnaev would be behind bars for the rest of his natural life or be executed before finally reaching the verdict that Tsarnaev will be put to death for his role in the bombings. Their decision was presumably based on their not buying the defense's arguments that Tsarnaev was influenced by brother Tamerlan and showed remorse for the crimes thereafter.

Only three members of the jury argued that Tsarnaev wouldn't have carried out the crimes without the influence of older brother Tamerlan, the verdict said. More than a month earlier, on April 8, Tsarnaev was convicted on all 30 counts against him in connection with the 2013 bombings that left four people dead and injured more than 200 others. The jury took just over 11 hours to reach the guilty verdicts, and even though Massachusetts does not have the death penalty, since the case was tried in federal court, 17 of the charges against him made Tsarnaev eligible for capital punishment.

Defense attorney Judy Clarke took a big risk in the way she presented her defense, telling the jury on the first day of the guilt phase of the trial "It was him." Clarke built her defense around the premise that Tsarnaev was acting under the influence of his older brother, Tamerlan, who she argued was the mastermind behind the plot to drop pressure-cooker bombs at the Boston Marathon finish line.

During the penalty phase, the prosecution presented testimony from injured victims as well as the families of Sean Collier, Lingzhi Lu, and Krystle Campbell, who were killed in the attacks. The parents of Martin Richard, who was eight when he died in the bombings, had written a front-page editorial in the Globe asking that Tsarnaev's life be spared.

We know that the government has its reasons for seeking the death penalty, but the continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives.
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The defense presented friends and family of Tsarnaev as witnesses during the penalty phase, with one witness, his aunt Patimat Suleimanova, finally evoking some emotion from the defendant. Before his aunt broke down on the witness stand, which brought him to tears, Tsarnaev had showed little emotion throughout both phases of his trial. According to The Globe, Tsarnaev's relatives testified that he was a sensitive child, who had cried when he saw the movie The Lion King, but who had come under the influence of an increasingly radical Tamerlan as he grew older.

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