Boston Bomber Found Guilty

April 8th 2015

Sarah Gray

A federal jury found Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, guilty on 30 counts, 17 of which carry a possible sentence of the death penalty. Tsarnaev and his brother carried out the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013. The verdict was handed down one week shy of the two-year anniversary of the attack.

Because Tsarnaev was found guilty of all 17 capital punishment offenses, the jury will now deliberate on whether he will receive the death penalty or spend life in prison. The death penalty is an option in this case because Tsarnaev is facing federal charges. Massachusetts does not have the death penalty.

The bombing:

On April 15, 2013, two explosions rocked the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three, taking the limbs of 17, and wounding 240 others. It was the most deadly terrorist act in the U.S. since the September 11, 2001 attacks. The attacks were believed to be in retaliation for the U.S. wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Following the bombing there was a massive manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was 19 at the time, and his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, that ended in Watertown, Mass. During the manhunt, which took place on Thursday, April 18 and Friday, April 19, the Tsarnaev brothers killed a M.I.T. campus security officer. The elder Tsarnaev brother was killed during a shoot-out with police on late Thursday night, early Friday morning. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was taken into custody on Friday evening.

The case against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev:

In the case against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the government called 92 witnesses; the defense called only four. The prosecution argued that the brothers were equals and partners in planning and carrying out the bombing.

"This was a cold, calculated terrorist act," Assistant U.S. Attorney Aloke Chakravarty stated in Monday's closing arguments. "This was intentional. It was bloodthirsty. It was to make a point. It was to tell America that 'We will not be terrorized by you anymore — we will terrorize you.'"

The defense acknowledged that Dzhokhar was involved in the events, but argued that they were orchestrated by his older brother and that he was led to commit these acts under his brother's influence.

"We don’t deny that Jahar [Dzhokhar's nickname] fully participated in the events," defense attorney Judy Clarke stated. "But if not for Tamerlan, it would not have happened." According to the New York Times, this defense strategy was used in anticipation for the sentencing, which could hold the death penalty.

The 12-member jury was composed of seven women, five men, and six alternates. The trial lasted 15 days, and the jury deliberated for 11 hours.