“He chose hate. He chose destruction. This is all on him.”
Earlier this year, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death after a jury found him guilty on 30 counts including conspiracy and murder. 10 of those counts carried a capital sentence, and just one month after the verdict was read, the same jury sentenced Tsarnaev to death.
Today, a judge formally handed down that verdict, and allowed victims and their families to speak directly to Tsarnaev. About 30 people stepped up to speak, and the mood in the courtroom was emotional:
CNN listened in:
“I know life is hard, but the choices that you made were despicable,” said the mother of victim Krystle Campbell, Patricia, who stood with her husband William and her son and brother.
“You will never know why she is so desperately missed by those of us who loved her,” Karen McWatters, a friend of Campbell’s, told Tsarnaev, who was facing in the direction of the speakers but not directly looking at them.
Tsarnaev instead often looked down, as he did during most of his long trial.
“When I’m angry I am furious, when I’m sad it is debilitating,” said Sean Collier’s sister, Jennifer Rogers. Sean’s father stood at her side.
“I will never have a complete and happy family again. I do not know the defendant nor do I care to know him. He is a coward and a liar… He bought milk after setting off a bomb to kill children.”
Bill Richard, father of 8-year-old bomb victim Martin Richard, said Tsarnaev could have changed his mind that April morning in 2013 and “walked away with a minimal sense of humanity.” But he didn’t.
“He chose to do nothing to prevent all of this from happening,” he said. “He chose hate. He chose destruction. This is all on him… We chose kindness. We chose peace.”
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, killed three people and injured 260 more in their attack on the 2013 Boston Marathon. Tamerlan was killed during the ensuing police chase, but authorities apprehended Dzhokhar, who remained unrepentant yet silent during the majority of his trial. His attorneys never attempted to deny his involvement in the attacks, but instead emphasized Tamerlan’s leadership role in the plot, saying that Dzhokhar was just along for the ride and would one day feel remorse.
The only flicker of emotion came when he appeared to wipe a tear from his eye while an elderly aunt, brought from Russia by the defense, dissolved into tears and gasping sobs on the witness stand.
And so, Boston is left to wonder whether Tsarnaev is proud of what he did — or ashamed. Does he even care?
Sister Helen Prejean, a Catholic nun who has earned renown for her work with death-row inmates, testified for the defense that Tsarnaev seemed “genuinely sorry.” She said he told her during one of several visits that the bombing victims didn’t deserve to suffer.
“He said it emphatically,” she told jurors, quoting Tsarnaev as saying, “Nobody deserves to suffer like they did.”
Defense attorney Judy Clarke chose her words carefully when she spoke about whether Tsarnaev felt remorse. She stopped short of telling jurors in her closing argument that he was sorry. All she’d say was he’d shown signs of “maturity” and was on the road to someday being remorseful.
The argument failed, and the verdict served as a balm to those affected by the violence.
At 21, Tsarnaev is the youngest person on death row; if his punishment is carried out, he will become just the fourth prisoner to be executed per a federal death sentence.DONATE
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