After sixteen days of testimony, the jury for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial is ready to begin deliberations as the very life of the 21-year-old hangs in the balance.
Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to the 2013 bombings that killed 3 and injured 260, several seriously. He was charged with 30 separate offenses, 17 of which carry the death penalty. Now the jury is ready to consider what they have heard.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers have claimed that it was his older brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who did all the planning and pressured his younger brother into the act of terror. The lawyers claimed that without Temerlan, the younger man would never have committed such a heinous act.
Claiming that they want their client to be held accountable for “what he did,” defense lawyer Judy Clarke nonetheless said that the jury should take the pressure he got from his brother into account.
“We don’t deny that Dzhokhar fully participated in the events, but if not for Tamerlan, it would not have happened,” Clarke said.
“We ask you to hold your mind open to what more there is to learn and what more there is to hear,” she concluded.
For his part, the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Aloke Chakravarty, said that Dzhokhar had dreams of becoming a “terrorist hero,” and intended to “terrorize this country.”
Of the children hurt in the bombing, Chakravarty insisted that the Tsarnaev brothers had no sympathy for them. “These children weren’t innocent to him; they were American,” he said.
“The evidence,” Chakravarty said, “speaks for itself.” He added, “It was intentional, it was bloodthirsty, it was to make a point.”
Some of the testimony from victims of the bombing was stark and heart rending.
The father of 8-year-old victim Martin Richard spoke to the mostly female jury.
“I saw a little boy who had his body severely damaged by an explosion,” the boy’s father, Bill, told the jury. “I just knew from what I saw that there was no chance… He was eight years old.”
The trial had a rocky road to its beginning, though, as Tsarnaev’s defense team tried time and again to delay the trial or have a change of venue approved.
Defense lawyers tried at least three times to delay the trial on one pretext or another. In one request the defense claimed they needed more time to prepare, in another to postpone jury selection, and in yet another to have the trial moved to another district.
Each time the defense lost its bid to delay the trial. Jury selection was concluded by March 3, and a few days later the trial began at last.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
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