A jury on Friday sentenced convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death for his role in the deadly attacks.
The jury earlier found Tsarnaev guilty on all 30 criminal counts against him and on Friday handed down the death penalty on six separate counts. Tsarnaev said and did nothing while the verdict was read; he simply sat in his chair and swallowed. As Judge George O’Toole thanked the jury for their service, multiple jurors cried, including the forewoman. The jury deliberated for 15 hours in the penalty phase of the trial.
“Even the worst of the worst deserve a fair trial,” U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said in a statement after the verdict. ”The jury has spoken, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will pay with his life for the crime.”
Tsarnaev will remain in custody of the U.S. Marshals and will be later formally sentenced by Judge O’Toole, according to Ortiz. At the formal sentencing hearings, victims and survivors, as well as Tsarnaev, will be given an opportunity to make a statement. After the sentencing, Tsarnaev will be taken into the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Ortiz said. Tsarnaev, 21, will become the youngest inmate on federal death row.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said “the ultimate penalty is a fitting punishment for this horrific crime.” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he hopes the verdict “provides a small amount of closure to the survivors, families, and all impacted by the violent and tragic events,” adding, “We will forever remember and honor those who lost their lives and were affected by those senseless acts of violence on our city.”
The April 15, 2013 bombings left three people dead and 260 injured and were the worst terror attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001. The appeals process in the case could take at least a decade. The defense team will likely raise venue as grounds for appeal, having argued all along that Boston was an inappropriate location for a fair trial.
The trial for Timothy McVeigh for the Oklahoma City bombing was the last federal death penalty conviction in the U.S.
The jury needed to reach a unanimous decision to hand down the death penalty. Of the 30 counts against Tsarnaev, 17 carried the possibility of the death penalty.
Ten family members of the victims were in the courtroom, as was Ortiz. Some family members of the victims told the court they hoped Tsarnaev would be spared the death penalty.
The verdict came despite a distaste for capital punishment in Boston and across Massachusetts. The death penalty was banned in the state 1984, and a convict has not been executed there since 1947.
A Boston Globe poll published last month showed that fewer than 20% of state residents favored death for Tsarnaev, down from 33% in September 2013.
But Tsarnaev was tried in the federal system, which allows the death penalty. Only one other federal jury in Massachusetts has voted for death in modern history, in the 2004 trial of murderer Gary Lee Sampson. That penalty was thrown out on a technicality, and a jury will reconsider his sentence later this year.
Sydney Corcoran, who, along with her mother, suffered severe leg injuries in the bombings, called the verdict Friday “justice.”
Michael Ward, who was on off-duty firefighter who helped victims on the day of the attack, said “justice has prevailed today.” Tsarnaev is “gonna go to hell. That’s where he wanted to go, and he’s gonna get there quicker,” Ward added.
Dana Cohen, whose daughters was injured in the attack, said he believed that whatever the outcome, the jury would reach the right decision. The city was strong before the bombings, but “I think it’s stronger now,” he said.
Other than the furious typing from court reporters, the silence in the room was deafening. The jury appeared solemn, and Tsarnaev stood while the jury delivered its verdict to Judge O’Toole.
During the first phase of the trial, Tsarnaev’s defense team argued that his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was the mastermind behind the attacks and that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was influenced by his brother.
With reporting from NBC News’ Pete Wililams and Tom Winter in Boston.