Top Stories

Boston bombing suspect found guilty, may face death sentence

CONVICTED: Tsarnaev and his brother planted bombs that tore through the crowd at the Boston Marathon's finish line in 2013.


    Apr 10, 2015

    Boston bombing suspect found guilty, may face death sentence


    DZHOKHAR Tsarnaev was found guilty on Wednesday of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and injured 264 others, and the jury will now decide whether to sentence him to death.

    Tsarnaev, 21, is the surviving member of a pair of ethnic Chechen brothers who planted the homemade pressure-cooker bombs that tore through the crowd at the famed race's finish line, in one of the most shocking attacks on United States soil since Sept 11, 2001. He left behind a note describing the attack as an act of retribution for US military campaigns in Muslim-dominated countries.

    Tsarnaev's lawyers opened his federal trial in Boston a month ago by bluntly admitting that "it was him" who planted one of the bombs on April 15, 2013 and three days later shot dead a police officer, kicking off a day of chaos in Boston.

    After 11 hours of deliberations over two days, the jury found him guilty of all 30 criminal counts he had faced.

    The slightly built, lightly goateed defendant stood silently, shifting uncomfortably as a US District Court official read out each guilty finding, a process that took 25 minutes.

    The courtroom was packed with survivors of the attack including the parents of eight-year-old Martin Richard, the youngest victim killed, and law enforcement officials including former Boston Police commissioner Ed Davis.

    The blasts also killed restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, 29, and Chinese exchange student Lu Lingzi, 23. Tsarnaev was also found guilty of the fatal shooting of Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, 26.

    With Tsarnaev's guilt established, the trial now moves into a second phase where prosecutors and defence attorneys will call another round of witnesses. The jury will decide whether to sentence him to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. That phase begins next week.

    Tsarnaev's lawyers have indicated that they plan to show that his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan was the driving force behind the attack, a contention they hope will persuade the jury to spare his life.

    In stark contrast to defence attorney Judith Clarke's opening-statement admission of Tsarnaev's guilt in placing the bombs, she turned her attention during last week's closing argument to the making of the bombs. "Tamerlan did that," Ms Clarke said, contending that without the older brother, there would have been no attack. Tamerlan died on April 19, 2013, after Dzhokhar ran him over with a car while fleeing a gunfight with the police.