Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sentenced to death

In this courtroom sketch, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, center, is depicted between defense attorneys Miriam Conrad, left, and Judy Clarke, right, during his federal death penalty trial, March 5, 2015, in Boston. | AP Photo

BOSTON, Ma. (AP) — A Judge formally sentenced Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death Wednesday for the 2013 attacks.

The 21-year-old Tsarnaev spoke Wednesday before he was formally sentenced to death. It was the first time he has spoken in court. He apologized to the victims and survivors.

“I am sorry for the lives that I’ve taken, for the suffering that I’ve caused you, for the damage that I’ve done — irreparable damage,” the college student said, breaking more than two years of public silence.

Three people were killed and more than 260 others injured when twin bombs exploded at the finish line of the marathon. Tsarnaev was also convicted of killing a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer days later.

During his trial, a Roman Catholic nun who visited him said he expressed sympathy for the victims, but he has never said so publicly.

Procession of victims and their loved ones lashed out at him for his “cowardly” and “disgusting” acts.

“He can’t possibly have had a soul to do such a horrible thing,” said Karen Rand McWatters, who lost a leg in the attack and whose best friend, 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, was killed.

Campbell’s mother, Patricia Campbell, was the first person to address the court. She looked across the room at Tsarnaev, seated about 20 feet away, and spoke directly to him.

“What you did to my daughter is disgusting,” she said. “I don’t know what to say to you. I think the jury did the right thing.”

Twenty-four people in all gave so-called victim impact statements at the sentencing in federal court.

Rebekah Gregory, a Texas woman who lost a leg in the bombing, defiantly told Tsarnaev she is not his victim.

“While your intention was to destroy America, what you have really accomplished is actually quite the opposite — you’ve unified us,” she said, staring directly at Tsarnaev as he looked down.

“We are Boston strong, we are America strong, and choosing to mess with us was a terrible idea. So how’s that for your VICTIM impact statement?”

Several victims condemned Tsarnaev for coming to the U.S. as an immigrant from Russia, enjoying the benefits of living here and then attacking American citizens.

“He is a leech abusing the privilege of American freedom, and he spit in the face of the American dream,” said Jennifer Rogers, an older sister of slain MIT Officer Sean Collier.

Bill Richard, whose 8-year-old son Martin was the youngest person killed in the bombing, said Tsarnaev could have backed out of the plot and reported his brother to authorities.

Instead, Richard said, “He chose hate. He chose destruction. He chose death. This is all on him.”

Richard noted that his family would have preferred that Tsarnaev receive a life sentence so that he could have had “a lifetime to reconcile with himself what he did that day.”

Richard said his family has chosen love, kindness and peace, adding: “That is what makes us different than him.”

Tsarnaev’s lawyers admitted he participated in the bombings but argued that Tamerlan was the driving force in the plot.

In a message he scrawled in the boat he was found hiding in, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev said the attack was retaliation against the U.S. for its wars in Muslim countries.

Some victims Wednesday described psychological injuries invisible to the world, but all too real and debilitating to them.

 

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