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Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Was Just Sentenced To Death

An appeal is likely, but the defense's argument that the 21-year-old was influenced by his older brother and expressed remorse for the 2013 attack did not sway the 12-member jury.

by Allie Conti
May 15 2015, 6:40pm

Photo courtesy Federal Bureau of Investigation

Just after 3:30 PM on Friday, 21-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death. On April 8, the 12-member federal grand jury found him guilty of all 30 counts he was charged with in relation to the bombing of the Boston Marathon in April 2013. Of those counts, 17 carried the death penalty. After about 14 and a half hours of deliberation, the jury decided Tsarnaev deserved to die for six of the charges.

Back in March, Tsarnaev's defense team opened up the trial by admitting their client was guilty. They spent the following weeks trying to portray him as human. While he didn't take the stand, Tsarnaev conveyed remorse during the penalty portion of the trial, according to Sister Helen Prejean. The nun, who met with him several times in prison, said in her testimony that he was sorry and "absolutely sincere."

After closing arguments, the jury was whisked away and tasked with filling out a verdict form— what basically amounts to a checklist—that weighed the various factors proposed by the government and the defense teams.

Had the jury voted for life in prison, Tsarnaev would most likely have ended up at the federal supermax prison in Colorado. Also known as the "Alcatraz of the Rockies," it's said by a former warden to be a place "much worse than death." There, he would have spent 23 hours a day in isolation and the remaining time among the likes of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef, and "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reid.

In fact, during the trial, Tsarnaev's attorneys tried to spare his life by arguing in front of the jury how horrible a punishment the supermax is. The verdict represents the first time a federal grand jury has sentenced a terrorist to death since 9/11, the New York Times reported.

The jury forewoman reportedly took a deep breath as she handed the verdict to the judge, and the only sound that could be heard in Courtroom 9 was apparently the frantic typing of reporters. Tsarnaev sat with his head bowed while awaiting word of his fate.

Despite the nun's testimony, the jury decided that Tsarnaev showed a lack of remorse for all capital counts. He showed no expression as the verdict was read, and while an appeal is likely, Tsarnaev is poised to become the first of celebrated defense attorney Judy Clarke's clients to be executed.

UPDATE: Attorney General Loretta Lynch released a statement saying "the ultimate penalty is a fitting punishment for this horrific crime."

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said, "I hope this verdict provides a small amount of closure to the survivors, families."

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