Tsarnaev convicted on all charges in bombing of the Boston Marathon
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted on all charges Wednesday in the Boston Marathon bombing by a jury that will now decide whether the 21-year-old should be executed or shown mercy for what his lawyer says was a crime masterminded by his big brother.
The former college student stood with his hands folded, fidgeted and looked down at the defense table in federal court as he listened to the word “guilty” recited on all 30 counts against him, including conspiracy and deadly use of a weapon of mass destruction. Seventeen of those counts are punishable by death.
The verdict, reached after a day and a half of deliberations, was practically a foregone conclusion, given his lawyer’s startling admission at the trial’s outset that Tsarnaev carried out the terror attack with his now-dead older brother, Tamerlan.
The 12-member jury must be unanimous for Tsarnaev to receive a death sentenced; otherwise the penalty will be life behind bars.
The defense strategy is to try to save Tsarnaev’s life in the upcoming penalty phase by arguing he fell under the evil influence of his brother.
Prosecutors, however, portrayed the brothers — ethnic Chechens who moved to the United States from Russia more than a decade ago — as full partners in a brutal and coldblooded plan to punish the U.S. for its wars in Muslim countries. Jihadist writings, lectures and videos were found on both their computers, though the defense argued that Tamerlan downloaded the material and sent it to his brother.
The two shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs that exploded near the finish line on April 15, 2013, killed three spectators and wounded more than 260 other people, turning the traditionally celebratory home stretch of the world-famous race into a scene of carnage and putting the city on edge for days.
Tsarnaev was found responsible not only for those deaths but for the killing of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer who was gunned down days later.
“It’s not a happy occasion, but it’s something,” said Karen Brassard, who suffered shrapnel wounds on her legs. “One more step behind us.”
She said Tsarnaev appeared “arrogant” and uninterested during the trial, and she wasn’t surprised when she saw no remorse on his face as the verdicts were read. She refused to say whether she believes he deserves the death penalty, but she rejected the defense argument that he was simply following his brother’s lead.
“He was in college. He was a grown man who knew what the consequences would be,” Brassard said. “I believe he was `all in’ with the brother.”
Tsarnaev’s lawyers left the courthouse without commenting.
In the penalty phase, which could begin as early as Monday, the jury will hear evidence on whether he should get the death penalty or spend the rest of his life in prison.
Defense attorney Judy Clarke argued that Tsarnaev was led astray by his radicalized brother, telling the jury: “If not for Tamerlan, it would not have happened.” She repeatedly referred to Dzhokhar — then 19 — as a “kid” and a “teenager.”
Tamerlan, 26, died when he was shot by police and run over by his brother during a chaotic getaway attempt days after the bombing.
The government called 92 witnesses over 15 days, painting a hellish scene of torn-off limbs, blood-spattered pavement, ghastly screams and the smell of sulfur and burned hair.
Survivors gave heartbreaking testimony about losing legs in the blasts or watching people die. The father of 8-year-old Martin Richard described making the agonizing decision to leave his mortally wounded son so he could get help for their 6- year- old daughter, whose leg had been blown off.
In the courtroom Wednesday, Denise Richard, the boy’s mother, wiped tears from her face after the verdict. The boy’s father, Bill Richard, embraced one of the prosecutors.
In Russia, Tsarnaev’s father, Anzor Tsarnaev, told The Associated Press in recent days that he would have no comment.
The others killed in the bombing were Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old Chinese graduate student at Boston University, and Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant manager. MIT Officer Sean Collier was shot to death at close range days later.
Some of the most damning evidence at the trial included video showing Tsarnaev planting a backpack containing one of the bombs near where the 8-year-old boy was standing, and incriminating statements scrawled inside the dry-docked boat where a wounded and bleeding Tsarnaev was captured days after the tragedy.
“Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop,” he wrote.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers barely cross-examined the government’s witnesses and called just four people to the stand over less than two days, all in an effort to portray the older brother as the guiding force in the plot.
In this courtroom sketch, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, second from left, is depicted standing with his defense attorneys William Fick, left, Judy Clarke, second from right, and David Bruck, right, as the jury presents its verdict in his federal death penalty trial in Boston on Wednesday, April 8.