Conflict & Justice

Tsarnaev sentenced to death for Boston Marathon bombing

Tsarnaev.jpg

Aloke Chakravarty, a prosecutor, addressed jurors during closing arguments in the Boston Marathon bombings trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Credit:

Jane Flavell Collins/Reuters

Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been sentenced to death for the 2013 killings before thousands of people in Boston's Back Bay. 

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The jury's decision came after 14 hours of deliberations.

One by one the jury was asked about aggravating conditions — and decided that Tsarnaev, 19, did not show remorse and there was little evidence to show he would not commit another crime. "Killing innocents," prosecutor Steven Mellin said, "was the whole point."

Many observers were surprised at the speed in which jurors plowed through the 24-page document, says Juliette Kayyem, a former Homeland Security official. 

Tsarnaev was convicted last month of all 30 federal charges against him, 17 of which carried the possibility of the death penalty.

Throughtout the trial Tsarnaev appeared to show little emotion. Boston Magazine Susan Zalkind called him an enigma.

Two pressure-cooker bombs exploded near the marathon's finish line on April 15, 2013, killing three people and injuring more than 260. Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, also killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer days later.

 

 

 

 

No one disputed his role in the bombings. The defense sought to say Tsarnaev, a college student, was under the influence of his radicalized older brother, Tamerlan, who wanted to punish the US for its actions in Muslim countries. Prosecutors said Tsarnaev was a full partner in the bombing.

Some jurors were in tears after the decision was read.

 

 

An appeal of the sentence is mandatory and the process will take years.

 

 

 

(Death sentence comes in state that has outlawed death penalty in state trials)

Journalist Masha Gessen, who covered the trial at the federal courthouse in Boston, said the juror selection process offered a clash between Massachusetts culture and federal law. Capital punishment hasn't been legal in Massachusetts since 1982 and hasn't been used in a state case since 1947. "The vast majority of residents are opposed to the death penalty," Gessen said. "On the other hand, it's a federal case, it's a death penalty case.''

What that meant: Any juror who was opposed to the death penalty was automatically disqualified.

The upshot, Gessen said, is that that the court had to choose jurors "from a minority of the state's population, and probably a minority with a fairly distinct political profile."