BOSTON — A jury has sentenced Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death. There was no visible reaction from Tsarnaev.
CNN Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin said a years-long appeal process is expected, but “the overwhelming likelihood is that he will die.”
The jury’s verdict marked the first time in the post-9/11 era that federal prosecutors have won the death penalty in a terrorism case. Tsarnaev will likely be sent to the federal death row in Terre Haute, Indiana.
At the request of the defense, the court polled the jurors, who verified that their sentence is death for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. As the death sentence was read, several of the survivors and family members in the courtroom dabbed tears from their eyes. The family of 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was killed in the bombing, appeared stoic. They had opposed a death sentence.
As U.S. marshals stepped forward to take Dzhokhar Tsarnaev away, he gave a wry smile and made an odd gesture — his index fingers extended at waist level — that looked like a gunslinger’s two-pistol salute.
Boston Marathon bombing survivor Sydney Corcoran, who suffered shrapnel wounds; and her mother, who lost both legs, reacted to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s death sentence on Twitter: “My mother and I think that NOW he will go away and we will be able to move on. Justice. In his own words, ‘an eye for an eye.'”
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, in a statement, thanked the jurors for their service in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. “I hope this verdict provides a small amount of closure to the survivors, families, and all impacted by the violent and tragic events surrounding the 2013 Boston Marathon. We will forever remember and honor those who lost their lives and were affected by those senseless acts of violence on our city,” he said.
The jury deliberated for 16 hours over parts of three days before reaching its decision. They were tasked with deciding whether Tsarnaev should be sentenced to life in prison or death.
SCROLL DOWN down for updates from the courtroom
The sentencing is the final chapter to a brutal, emotionally exhausting trial that brought forth indelible images of an unspeakable crime. Jurors saw the second bomb go off by the Forum restaurant and they viewed videos and photographs of the carnage. They heard the screams and saw people on the street, dying even as bystanders rushed to help. And they heard from people who survived against all odds but continue to struggle with their injuries.
Rescuers spoke of the decisions they had to make in the face of such overwhelming bloodshed: Who could they save, and who should they leave behind?
The bombing of the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, recalled other acts of terror on U.S. soil like the attacks of September 11, 2001. The homemade bombs, built with pressure cookers loaded with gunpowder, BBs and nails, also injured at least 240 people; 17 of them lost limbs.
Boston was set on edge for days as the suspects remained at large. Finally, on April 18, police released surveillance images of two suspects they called “black hat” and “white hat.” It didn’t take long for the two to be identified as Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Within just a few hours of the release of the photos, a campus police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was shot to death as the fleeing brothers tried to take his gun. But they were thwarted by a locked safety holster.
The Tsarnaev brothers hijacked a Mercedes SUV; Tamerlan told the driver he was responsible for the marathon bombing. The driver escaped when the brothers stopped at a convenience store for gas and snacks.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a 26-year-old married father and former Golden Gloves boxer, died hours later in a standoff with police in Watertown, a Boston suburb. Out of ammunition, he tossed his empty pistol at an officer and walked into a hail of police bullets. As officers wrestled him to the ground, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev ran at them in the stolen Mercedes SUV, running over his brother and dragging him.
The younger Tsarnaev was finally arrested the next day; he was discovered hiding in a tarp-covered pleasure boat in a Watertown backyard.
Tsarnaev hid in the boat for hours. At some point, he picked up a pencil and wrote what prosecutors called his “boat manifesto.” Streaks of blood covered portions of the writing and more than a dozen bullet holes obliterated parts of words.
It said he was “jealous” that his brother had achieved paradise by dying like a holy warrior during the gun battle with police. About the bombings, Tsarnaev wrote that he didn’t enjoy killing innocents, but that circumstances called for it:
“The US Government is killing our innocent civilians but most of you already know that,” he wrote. “Know you are fighting men who look into the barrel of your gun and see heaven, now how can you compete with that. We are promised victory and we will surely get it.”
He wrote that he couldn’t stand to see the U.S. government “go unpunished” for killing Muslims.
“We Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all.”
He ended with: “Now I don’t like killing innocent people it is forbidden in Islam but due to said [word lost to a bullet hole] it is allowed.”