Boston Marathon bomber apologizes at sentencing hearing

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Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman and this is The World. A dramatic day at the federal courthouse here in Boston. Convicted marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was formally sentenced to death. But, before that, survivors and relatives of the victims addressed Tsarnaev directly and it was powerful. A victim's mother told him what he did was cowardly and disgusting. A survivor remarked that he must not have a soul. Then, unexpectedly, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev himself spoke, apologizing for what he did. Lynn Julian was one of the survivors in court today. She was not impressed by what Tsarnaev said.




Lynn Julian: He threw in an apology to the survivors that seemed insincere and just thrown in because he was supposed to.




Werman: Journalist Susan Zalkind was also at the courthouse today, listening to what Tsarnaev said.


Susan Zalkind: He called the name of Allah, first and foremost. He thanked the judge. He thanked his attorneys, who he said had made the past few months easy for him. But, surprisingly, he also thanked the jury. He called the name of Allah many times. It was about a six-minute talk and he said there's been a lot of conspiracy theories suggesting that maybe he didn't do the bombing. He said, "No, it was me. As soon as it happened I started learning more about the victims, about the people I hurt." He said, "Those victims had names, they had faces, and they had burning souls." He sounded like he did actually have remorse. He also called for mercy for his brother, for his dead brother who carried out the attack with him and for his family.


Werman: He also apologized. He used the word "apologize", right?


Zalkind: Yeah. Yeah, he did. He apologized.


Werman: Was he emotional at all when we spoke?


Zalkind: This is not an emotional man. Like I said, we've heard the most horrific testimony. This is his death sentence and even this morning he seemed kind of lighthearted. He doesn't show much emotion, but the words he said... his pre-written speech seemed to reveal that he did have emotions.


Werman: So, his voice was monotone?


Zalkind: I wouldn't say that. I would say it wasn't monotone. It was almost like a casual conversation.


Werman: Sorry to press you on this, but we will never hear what happened in the courtroom.


Zalkind: I know. Almost casual. He spoke almost casually. He was solemn, I guess you could say. He sounded sincere. He sounded a little light, almost a little joking when he said, "Yes, it was me. I did it." I'm not sure to what extent he knows about the conspiracy theories surrounding the fact of if he planted those bombs or not. I think "sincere" would be the best word.


Werman: Susan, do you have any idea why Dzhokhar Tsarnaev did not speak up earlier in the trial and say some of the things he said today, apologize, communicate some of the remorse he spoke about today?


Zalkind: Well, it's always dangerous for a defense attorney or a defendant to put their client up on the stand. There's enormous risk of cross examination. Why did he speak today when the case is already over, when he's been sentenced to death? Well, this case is going to be appealed. Many legal experts believe that this case is going to be appealed for decades from now. So, it's possible that he was trying to put a little grease on the wheels, although I don't know directly how that would have happened to move the appeal process along. At least improve his public standing. But, it's also possible that he just had a change of heart and he wanted to express himself. He wanted to apologize to his victims.


Werman: So, Susan, just your overall impressions of this odd but very emotional day.


Zalkind: Overall impression... It's an extremely emotional day. It's an extremely solemn day and it's an extremely sad day. Before the happenings this afternoon, we saw about over a dozen anti-death penalty protesters outside with flags. So, I would say it's sort of surreal to finally hear him speak. I've been looking at this case for two years--investigating him, trying to figure out what he's like--and to finally hear this individual talk is fairly surreal.


Werman: Susan Zalkind, thank you very much.


Zalkind: Thank you.


Werman: Susan's been covering the trial since the beginning.