How Tsarnaev's Victims & Victims' Families Reacted

Two years and one month after the grisly Boston Marathon bombing that claimed three lives and wounded hundred more, followed by a manhunt that left an MIT police officer dead, and the moment is finally here. On Friday afternoon, a Boston jury sentenced Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death, meaning all 12 jurors unanimously agreed to the harshest punishment the criminal justice system can mete out. This brings to an end one of the highest-profile criminal trials in Boston's history, and people have strong feelings about it — some of Tsarnaev's victims and their families have reacted to the sentence.

Tsarnaev's sentence isn't surprising exactly, given the extremely dire nature of his crimes (he was convicted on all 30 counts against him back in April), although the rquirement of a unanimous decision by the jury for a death sentence does set a high bar. His defense team had argued strenuously for months before the trial that it shouldn't have be held in Boston, out of fear that a local jury could be predisposed to wanting Tsarnaev executed, but their requests for a change of venue weren't successful.

You shouldn't assume that this outcome is necessarily the one Tsarnaev's victims and their families wanted, however — one of the most prominent families throughout the proceedings, the Richards (8-year-old Martin Richard was slain in the marathon blast) actually came out movingly against the death penalty for Tsarnaev in a Boston Globe essay following his conviction — though they respectfully acknowledged they could only speak for themselves.

For us, the story of Marathon Monday 2013 should not be defined by the actions or beliefs of the defendant, but by the resiliency of the human spirit and the rallying cries of this great city. We can never replace what was taken from us, but we can continue to get up every morning and fight another day. As long as the defendant is in the spotlight, we have no choice but to live a story told on his terms, not ours. The minute the defendant fades from our newspapers and TV screens is the minute we begin the process of rebuilding our lives and our family.
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So, what are the people most involved in this tragic saga saying about the death sentence? As reported by USA Today, the scene in the Boston courtroom was a somber one, but some people who'd been wounded by Tsarnaev's crimes voiced their feelings in the aftermath. For one, Heather Abbott, who lost a leg in the bombing.

Nothing can ever replace the lives that were lost or changed forever, but at least there is some relief in knowing that justice is served and responsibility will be taken,

USA Today also quoted a statement from the family of 27-year-old police officer Sean Collier, who died in a firefight with Tsarnaev near the campus of MIT, during the frenetic manhunt. The school established a new, permanent memorial to Collier weeks ago.

Sean Collier gave his life doing what he was born to do — serving and protecting all of us as a police officer. While today's verdict can never bring Sean back, we are thankful that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be held accountable for the evil that he brought to so many families.

Other people affected by the grisly bombing have lended their voices too, as detailed by BuzzFeed — like Sgt. Dic Donohue, who was shot in the leg during an encounter with the Tsarnaev brothers (the elder, Tamerlan, was slain before Dzhokhar was arrested).

Just over two years after the events that impacted us as a community and a nation, we can finally close this chapter in our lives. The verdict, undoubtedly a difficult decision for the jury, gives me relief and closure as well as the ability to keep moving forward.

There hasn't been any public reaction yet from the Martin family yet, and in all honesty it's easy to imagine anybody close to this story wanting to not talk publicly on it. According to WFXT's Malini Basu, the family of Krystal Campbell, another young woman slain in the attack, were pleased with the outcome.

Bombing victim Sydney Cocoran, who lost a leg (her mother lost both) in the bombing, also weighed in on Twitter.

Of course, Tsarnaev's sentencing is only the beginning — he'll likely face years exhausting his appeals process before actually being put to death.

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