Bos­ton bomber apol­o­gizes but death sen­tence stands


Bos­ton bomber Dzhokhar Tsar­naev apol­o­gized to his vic­tims for the first time at a highly emo­tional court hear­ing Wed­nes­day where he was for­mally sen­tenced to death for the 2013 at­tacks.

The U.S. citizen of Chechen de­scent was sen­tenced to death on six counts for per­pe­trat­ing the Marathon bomb­ings, one of the blood­i­est as­saults on U.S. soil since the Septem­ber 11, 2001 at­tacks.

“I would like to now apol­o­gize to the vic­tims and to the sur­vivors,” said the 21-year-old for­mer univer­sity stu­dent in his first public re­marks since the April 15, 2013 bomb­ings that killed three peo­ple.

“I am guilty,” he said in a slight Rus­sian ac­cent, stand­ing pale and thin in a dark blazer. “Let there be no doubt about that.”

“I am sorry for the lives I have taken, for the suf­fer­ing, the dam­age that I have done,” he said, couch­ing his re­marks in the name of Al­lah and ask­ing for God’s for­give­ness.

Judge Ge­orge O’Toole of­fi­cially im­posed the death sen­tence, which had been reached unan­i­mously by a 12-per­son jury on May 15 af­ter pros­e­cu­tors painted Tsar­naev as a re­morse­less ter­ror­ist.

“I sen­tence you to the penalty of death by ex­e­cu­tion,” O’Toole told Tsar­naev, be­fore he was led away by U.S. Mar­shals.

Tsar­naev will even­tu­ally sit on fed­eral death row in Terre Haute, In­di­ana, but pros­e­cu­tors say he could be sent first to Amer­ica’s only “su­per-max” prison, ADX Florence, in Colorado.

De­fense lawyer Judy Clarke told the court that Tsar­naev had of­fered to plead guilty last year, but Wed­nes­day’s re­marks were the first time that her client had ex­pressed any re­morse in public.

‘I have for­given him’

Sur­vivors were di­vided on whether his apol­ogy was gen­uine. Lynn Ju­lian said his re­marks “were sort of shock­ing” and de­nied that he had shown proper re­morse or re­gret.

“A sin­cere apol­ogy would’ve been nice,” she told re­porters.

But Henry Bor­gard, who was a stu­dent on his way home from work when he was in­jured in the bomb­ings, was one of the few to for­give and said that he had been “re­ally deeply moved” by Tsar­naev’s re­marks.

“I have for­given him. I have come to a place of peace and I gen­uinely hope that he does as well,” he said. “I’m go­ing to take it on faith that what he said was gen­uine.”

But gov­ern­ment pros­e­cu­tors crit­i­cized Tsar­naev, who showed lit­tle emo­tion dur­ing the trial, for in­vok­ing Al­lah, and said he had not re­nounced ter­ror­ism or re­pu­di­ated vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism.

On Wed­nes­day 24 vic­tims and their rel­a­tives made har­row­ing im­pact state­ments, some in tears, as they de­scribed their grief, pain, fi­nan­cial prob­lems and how the at­tacks bru­tally changed their lives.

Out­side the court house, po­lice ar­rested a young man who al­legedly had a meat cleaver stashed in his car. He is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated for any pos­si­ble ter­ror­ism link, the FBI said.

The bomb­ings wounded 264 peo­ple, in­clud­ing 17 who lost limbs, near the fin­ish line at the north­east­ern city’s pop­u­lar marathon.

“The choices you made were de­spi­ca­ble,” said Pa­tri­cia Camp­bell, whose daugh­ter Krys­tle was killed.

“What you did to my daugh­ter was dis­gust­ing. The jury did the right thing,” she said, ad­dress­ing Tsar­naev di­rectly.

‘All on him’

Bill Richard, the fa­ther of the youngest vic­tim, eight-year-old Martin, said he would have pre­ferred Tsar­naev re­ceive a life sen­tence but said the at­tacks were “all on him.”

Tsar­naev, Richard said, could have stopped his brother, changed his mind and “walked away with a min­i­mal sense of hu­man­ity.”

“He chose hate. He chose de­struc­tion. He chose death,” Richard said. “We choose love. We choose kind­ness. We choose peace. That is what makes us dif­fer­ent.”

The judge told Tsar­naev that his name would only ever be re­mem­bered for the hor­rors that he in­flicted.

The death penalty ver­dict was a sting­ing de­feat for the de­fense, who ar­gued that Tsar­naev was a “lost kid” who had been ma­nip­u­lated by his older brother, Tamer­lan.

Tamer­lan was shot dead on the run be­fore Tsar­naev was ar­rested.

He was found, in­jured, in a grounded boat on which he had scrawled a bloody mes­sage de­fend­ing the at­tacks as a means to avenge U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The death sen­tence is pos­si­ble only un­der fed­eral law. The state of Mas­sachusetts out­lawed cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment in 1947 and opin­ion polls had sug­gested res­i­dents fa­vored a life sen­tence for Tsar­naev.


Bos­ton Marathon bomb­ing sur­vivors Erika Bran­nock, left, and Re­bekah Gre­gory leave the Moak­ley Fed­eral Court­house clutch­ing each other fol­low­ing the for­mal sen­tenc­ing of Dzhokhar Tsar­naev in Bos­ton, Wed­nes­day, June 24.

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