Boston Marathon Bomber Tsarnaev Sentenced to Death

Tsarnaev
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, as seen in a handout photo presented as evidence by the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston on March 23, 2015. U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston/Handout via Reuters

Updated | Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been sentenced to death by lethal injection for his role in the 2013 attack on the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured 264.

After almost 15 hours of deliberations, a federal jury on Friday afternoon decided the fate of the bomber, 21. The 12 jury members concluded that Tsarnaev didn't show remorse for his role in the bombing and should be sentenced to death on six of the counts against him. Seventeen of the total 30 charges carried the possibility of the death penalty; the jury had to vote for only one to deliver a death sentence.

Over the past weeks, they had listened to more than 150 witnesses and saw some of the most gruesome evidence and pictures from Boston's Boylston Street on April 15, 2013.

Tsarnaev, who will be sentenced formally this summer, sat in his chair and said nothing as his death sentence was read, according to reporters in the courtroom. In the moments before, he adjusted his shirt collar and looked down at the table in front of him, not making eye contact with the jury.

Tsarnaev's legal team didn't immediately show any visible reaction to the sentencing. The defense lawyers were expected to quickly appeal.

Lead prosecutor Bill Weinreb refused to comment on Tsarnaev's apparent lack of remorse. He said his team worked to identify and present the evidence that would help the jury make its decision.

Only three of the 12 jurors believed Tsarnaev was influenced by his elder brother, Tamerlan, who died four days after the attacks.

Among those in court were family members of the victims, including Bill Richard, father of 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was killed in the attack, and the Watertown, Massachusetts, police chief, Ed Deveau. (Tsarnaev was captured by police in a boat in Watertown four days after the attack.)

Seventeen individuals lost limbs during the bombing. Survivor Rebekah Gregory tweeted a message after the sentencing, saying she is "completely numb" and "waiting anxiously for the day this is really over."

Sydney Corcoran, a survivor who had a piece of shrapnel in her leg after the attack, wrote on Twitter: "NOW he will go away and we will be able to move on. Justice. In his own words, 'an eye for an eye.'"

Last month, the same jury found Tsarnaev guilty of the 30 counts related to his involvement in the bombings, which he carried out with his brother. The siblings planted two homemade pressure-cooker bombs near the marathon's finish line on April 15, 2013, killing Richard, Lingzi Lu and Krystle Campbell. They also were responsible for the murder of Sean Collier, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer, on April 18.

Some of the survivors and victims' families spoke publicly about their opposition to the death penalty. "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," the Richards family wrote in The Boston Globe.

U.S. District Judge George O'Toole Jr. told the jury members they should be "justly proud" of their service, the Globe reported. Their names, O'Toole added, eventually will be released to the media. The judge then dismissed the jury members from court, allowing them to choose whether they wanted to speak to reporters.

"The ultimate penalty is a fitting punishment for this horrific crime, and we hope that the completion of this prosecution will bring some measure of closure to the victims and their families," said U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, who supports the death penalty, thanked the jury and the judicial system on Friday afternoon. "I hope this represents some kind of closure for all of us who were affected by this tragedy," he told reporters during a press conference. Asked if the jury made the "correct" decision, Baker said, "I don't think about it that way—as a right decision or a wrong decision. I think about it as the decision made by the men and women of that jury."

Before the government closed its case in the trial on Wednesday, a federal prosecutor urged the jury to sentence Tsarnaev to death, telling the members of the jury—seven women and five men—that he is a terrorist who wanted to punish America with a deadly attack. Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen, turned against his adopted country, where he lived for a decade before the attack, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Mellin said. He cited a note that Tsarnaev had written while hiding in a boat as scores of law enforcement personnel searched for him four days after the attack.

Seeking the death penalty, prosecutors argued that Tsarnaev followed a militant Islamist ideology to punish America for U.S. military campaigns in Muslim lands. Throughout the trial, the prosecution pressed some of the witnesses who described Tsarnaev as an endearing child, and alleged that he was defiant in his actions and behaviors. The prosecutors presented an image to the jury of Tsarnaev showing his middle finger to a camera while he stood in a holding cell at a Massachusetts courthouse in July 2013. The photograph became a lasting public representation of the convicted bomber.

Meanwhile, the defense worked to show he was a willing but secondary player in a plot led by his elder brother. In March, defense attorney Judy Clarke opened the case by admitting to the courtroom that Tsarnaev was guilty of the "senseless, horribly misguided acts" at the marathon's finish line.

Tsarnaev showed his first sign of emotion when he appeared to cry during testimony from one of his aunts. Patimat Suleimanova sobbed uncontrollably from the moment she took the stand. Soon she was unable to speak and ultimately was asked to return to her seat. As she walked away, Tsarnaev wiped his right eye repeatedly with a tissue.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Carmen Ortiz said Tsarnaev's actions were not a Muslim crime but rather a "political crime designed to intimidate and coerce the United States."

She added, "The trial of this case has showcased an important American ideal—that even the worst of the worst deserves a free trial and due process of the law."

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he hopes the verdict provides a small amount of closure to the survivors, families and everyone else affected by the tragedy. "We know that Boston is a city of hope, strength and resilience that can overcome any challenge," he said in a statement Friday.

The trial took place at the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse in South Boston. The death penalty is not permitted under state law in Massachusetts, but Tsarnaev faced it because he was convicted of federal crimes.

Tsarnaev will have the chance to speak at the formal sentencing this summer. Then he will go either to the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, or the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative-Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado.

At the press conference Friday, Baker said reconsidering the death penalty in Massachusetts is "not a high priority" for him.

During a press conference, survivor Karen Brassard thanked the jury for an "unbelievably hard thing" they had to endure in court. "Right now it feels like we can take a breath and actually breathe again," she said.

Liz Norden, the mother of two survivors, said she can't find closure because each day she sees her two sons put on their prosthetic legs. "There's no winner today," she added, "but I feel justice for my family."

Survivor Michael Ward told reporters he remembered the "vile, disgusting" scene in Boston when the two bombs went off at the finish line. "This is nothing to celebrate, this is a matter of justice," he said. "He wanted to go to hell, and he's going to get there early."

The Boston Marathon bombing was the highest-profile attack on U.S. soil since the terrorist attacks in New York City on September 11, 2001.

Boston Marathon Bomber Tsarnaev Sentenced to Death | U.S.