Jury finds Boston Bomber guilty; awaits death penalty decision

April 16th, 2015



Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, was found guilty of all 30 counts against him in the April 15, 2013 twin bombings at the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts. The attack killed three people and injured 260 others. It is the worst terror attack on American soil since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. 17 of the 30 counts carry the death penalty.


The penalty phase in the federal trial of convicted Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will begin on April 21, according to NBC News. This trial will allows jurors to decide if he should live or die.


Dzhokhar was found guilty of planting two homemade pressure cooker style bombs near the finish line of the marathon with his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The bombings initiated a manhunt of the perpetrators. The brothers had a run-in with police during which Tamerlan was killed and Dzhokhar injured, before the police found Dzhokhar hiding in a boat in a man’s driveway in the nearby suburb of Watertown.


The jury deliberated for 11 and a half hours before delivering the guilty verdict. Jurors had previously heard 16 days of testimony before deliberation.

Boston Marathon Bombing

Tsarnaev’s lawyers admitted their client’s role in the bombing but attempted to portray him as a pawn of his older brother, Tamerlan, whom they claimed was the true mastermind of the operation, according to Politico.


“It was him,” Judy Clarke, a lawyer for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, told the court during the trial. But the bombing was ultimately “a path born of his brother, created by his brother and paved by his brother.”


Federal prosecutors counted the defense by portraying the brothers as a team, potentially equals, according to USA Today. Prosecutor Aloke Charavarty told the jury that Dzhokhar “wanted to make a point. He wanted to punish America.”


“He planted one bomb, his brother planted the other,” Chavarty added.


Jurors were also presented with a bloody note, riddled with bullet holes, that Dzhokhar wrote on the inside of the boat he was hiding in during the hours before his capture, according to Politico. Prosecutors deemed this to be a key piece of evidence in determining Dzhokhar’s individual guilt from that of his brothers.  Part of the note said, “I don’t like killing innocent people it is forbidden in Islam but due to said [bullet hole] it is allowed.”


Of his brother Tamerlan, Dzhokhar wrote, “I do not mourn because his soul is very much alive.”


Many people injured in the bombings also took the stand to testify against Dzhokar, including Jeffrey Bauman, who lost both of his legs in the bombing. He described the scene as “pure carnage” and detailed the experience of losing his limbs, according to Politico.


Rebekah Gregory, another victim who lost a leg in the attack called Dzhokhar a ‘coward’ who ‘wouldn’t even look [her] in the eyes.’


Dzhokhar did not take the stand in his own defense and rarely showed any emotion at all, according to USA Today.


The trial will now enter a sentencing phase, where jurors will weigh aggravating and mitigating circumstances to decide whether to hand down a punishment of life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.


The death penalty was abolished in Massachusetts in 1984, but Dzhokhar could still be punished to death under Federal Law. United States attorney General Eric Holder, who has admitted in the past to his personal opposition to the death penalty, authorized the punishment for Tsarnaev.


Editor’s Note: Information from NBC News, USA Today and Politico were used in this report.