Bos­ton Marathon bomber’s lawyer urges jury to spare life of ‘good kid led astray’


De­fense lawyers for Bos­ton Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsar­naev be­gan mak­ing their case to spare his life by con­trast­ing him with his older brother, a man they said was “con­sumed by ji­had” and determined to drag his brother down his path to ter­ror­ism.

At­tor­ney David Bruck told ju­rors that Dzhokhar was “a good kid” who was led astray by his in­creas­ingly fa­nat­i­cal brother, Tamer­lan.

Dur­ing the de­fense’s open­ing state­ment on Mon­day, Bruck said there is no pun­ish­ment Tsar­naev can get that would be equal to the suf­fer­ing of the bomb­ing vic­tims. “There is no evening the scales,” he said. “There is no point in try­ing to hurt him as he hurt be­cause it can’t be done.”

Three peo­ple were killed and more than 260 were wounded when the Tsar­naev broth­ers set off two pres­sure-cooker bombs packed with shrap­nel near the marathon’s fin­ish line on April 15, 2013.

The jury con­victed Tsar­naev, 21, ear­lier this month of all 30 charges against him. Dur­ing the trial, pros­e­cu­tors called a long list of peo­ple who lost their legs or loved ones in the bomb­ings.

Tsar­naev also was found guilty of killing a Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy po­lice of­fi­cer dur­ing the broth­ers’ get­away at­tempt three days af­ter the bomb­ings. Tamer­lan Tsar­naev was killed dur­ing a shootout with po­lice hours later.

This stage of the trial will de­ter­mine whether Dzhokhar Tsar­naev is ex­e­cuted, as pros­e­cu­tors have de­manded, or spends the rest of his life be­hind bars, the sen­tence Bruck urged the jury to im­pose.

“His legal case will be over for good, and no mar­tyr­dom, just years and years of pun­ish­ment,” the lawyer said. “All the while, so­ci­ety is pro­tected.”

Bruck fo­cused heav­ily on Tamer­lan, de­pict­ing him as a volatile fig­ure who led the plot.

Bruck said Tamer­lan was loud and ag­gres­sive, got into fights, failed at ev­ery­thing he did and never held a steady job, while Dzhokhar was a good stu­dent in high school, was loved by his teach­ers there, had many friends and never got in trou­ble.

Tamer­lan went to Rus­sia

for six months in 2012 hop­ing to join ji­hadi fighters and re­turned to the U.S. even more rad­i­cal­ized, Bruck said.

Bruck said Dzhokhar grew up amid tur­moil and in­sta­bil­ity. He was born in the for­mer Soviet repub­lic of Kyr­gyzs­tan, then moved from place to place with his par­ents and sib­lings be­fore set­tling in the U.S. in 2002 when he was an 8-year-old, the at­tor­ney said.

The eight wit­nesses called by the de­fense Mon­day fo­cused not on Dzhokhar but on Tamer­lan — specif­i­cally, his ag­gres­sive­ness and deep­en­ing fer­vor.

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