Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been sentenced to death for his role in the 2013 bomb attack on the Boston Marathon – an attack that killed three people, left more than 260 wounded and stunned the country.
In April, the same jury at a federal court in Boston found Tsarnaev guilty on 30 charges relating to the attack.
Seventeen of those counts carried a possible death sentence, and despite hearing mitigating evidence from family members – and other such as Sister Helen Prejean, a Catholic nun who opposes the death penalty – the jury voted unanimously to send 21-year-old Tsarnaev to his death.
Prejean was the final witness for the defence in the so-called “penalty phase” of the trial, in which, having found Tsarnaev guilty on the 17 capital counts, the jury heard new evidence from the prosecution and defence designed to help them weigh “aggravating factors” against “mitigating factors” in deciding whether to put Tsarnaev to death for his crimes.
The sentence brings to end the five-month-long trial, in which 154 witnesses testified, more than 40 of them in the penalty phase.
In her closing argument on Tuesday, defence attorney Judy Clarke made one final appeal to the jury for mercy. “Mercy is never earned, it is bestowed,” she said.
But the jury seems to have been more receptive to the prosecution’s argument that the only fitting punishment for Tsarnaev’s crimes was death.
The sentence, which mandates the government to kill the 21-year-old Tsarnaev by lethal injection at the federal correctional facility in Terre Huate, Indiana, is subject to appeal.