Jury Sentences Dzhokhar Tsarnaev To Death For Boston Marathon Bombing

Massachusetts has no death penalty, but Tsarnaev had a federal trial because it dealt with terrorism.

On Friday (May 15), Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death for his involvement in the Boston Marathon bombing.

Tsarnaev's defense had tried to bring up mitigating factors, like Tsarnaev's young age (he's 21) and the theory that his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was the real mastermind behind the terrorist attack. Others, including the family of 8-year-old victim Martin Richard, also asked for life imprisonment for Tsarnaev, saying they did not want to deal with the lengthy appeals process that often occurs in a death penalty sentencing. However, after 14 hours of deliberations, a federal jury decided the death penalty was warranted.

An anti-death penalty protester stands outside the courthouse in Boston, MA/Getty

During closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney William Weinreb said Tsarnaev deserved the death penalty, "Not because he’s inhuman, but because he’s inhumane. Because of his willingness to destroy other people’s lives for an idea."

Tsarnaev had pleaded not guilty before a jury found him guilty on 30 counts on April 8. But his defense did not deny that he and his older brother, Tamerlan (now deceased), were behind the April 15, 2013, bombing that killed three people and injured more than 200.

Seventeen of the 30 charges brought against Tsarnaev came with a possible death penalty outcome. Some of these charges were related to terrorism, and other charges stemmed beyond the day of the bombing to incidents like the shootout that happened afterward.

“These were deliberate choices, these were political choices,” Assistant United States attorney Aloke Chakravarty said to the jurors in April. “An eye for eye, you kill us, we kill you, that’s what he said and that’s what he did.”

Massachusetts does not have the death penalty, but Tsarnaev's trial was done on the federal level because it deals with terrorism. The last person sentenced to death federally was Timothy McVeigh, who was behind the Oklahoma City Bombing 20 years ago. Tsarnaev will now go through the appeals process where his sentence may be overturned, though the majority of federal death penalty cases end with execution.