BOSTON (WWLP) – After fifteen hours of deliberations, a jury of 12 decided Dzhokhar Tsarnaev must be executed by lethal injection for his role in the 2013 attacks at the Boston Marathon finish line.
This trial has never really been about guilt or innocence. Tsarnaev’s defense team admitted in their opening statement Dzhokhar was involved. The question to be answered was how should he be punished?
In this penalty phase, the defense team told a different story that started years before the bombings: a troubled immigrant family, a father with mental illness, a beloved brother who made an extremist transformation into an aspiring jihadi warrior. They said Dzhokhar was a normal college kid who followed along in his brother’s footsteps. His lawyers hoped these mitigating factors would humanize Tsarnaev and make jurors feel sorry for the then-teen they called “an invisible child.” But jurors didn’t buy it.
Part of the verdict form included how many jurors believed each proposed mitigating factor. Only 3 of 12 believed he acted under Tamerlan’s influence, and that the older Tsarnaev planned and led the attacks.
At 3:00 Friday afternoon, lawyers filed into the courtroom. Tsarnaev yawned, and slouched in his seat with his head on his hand — The same look he’s had for months in this trial. His expression didn’t change when he learned he’ll die.
A number of survivors and victims’ families were in court to hear that death penalty verdict read. Carlos Arredondo, the “man in the cowboy hat” who saved Jeff Bauman has regularly been in court throughout the trial. 22News saw him leaving with survivors looking relieved and smiling.
Some tweeted their relief afterward. Adrienne Haslet, the amputee who danced across the finish line last month wrote she was thrilled with the verdict. Mayor Marty Walsh released a statement saying he brings a small amount of closure to those affected.
But Bill and Denise Richard, parents of 8 year-old victim Martin Richard, were expressionless in court as the verdict was read. They had released a public statement the week of this year’s marathon asking for an end to the anguish by taking the death penalty off the table. They said they didn’t want their remaining two children to grow up with the painful reminder of what Tsarnaev took from them, which the long appeals process will bring.
At 21, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is the youngest person on federal death row, he is also the first person to be sentenced to death in a terrorism case in the post 9/11 era. But he won’t be put to death by lethal injection anytime soon. He will most likely be brought to the U.S. penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana while a years-long appeals process plays out.
The Terre Haute facility was designated by the federal government back in the 1990s as the site where federal death sentences will be carried out.