A somber, soft-spoken Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev confessed his horrific crimes and apologized Wednesday at his sentencing hearing for the April 2013 terror attack that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.
“I am sorry for the lives I have taken, for the suffering I have caused, and for the terrible damage I have done,” said Tsarnaev, who was sentenced to death.
“I would like to apologize to the victims and the survivors,” said Tsarnaev. “I did do it.”
It was the first time Tsarnaev’s voice had been heard in federal court in Boston, other than to enter his not-guilty plea. His statement came after hours of heartwrenching testimony from those who survived the bombing, and relatives of those killed by the blasts.
“I am Muslim. My religion is Islam. I pray to Allah to bestow his mercy on those affected in the bombing and their families,” he said, hunched over and speaking with a slight accent. “I pray for your healing.”
“I ask Allah to have mercy on me, my brother, and my family,” he said in the brief statement to a hushed courtroom. Tsarnaev’s brother, his partner in the attack, was killed in a confrontation with police.
Tsarnaev, 21, had taken a sharp turn from a partying college student to self-radicalized terrorist bent on striking a blow against the United States.
The two bombs planted by Tsarnaev and his brother on April 15, 2013, turned the finish line of the festive, world-renowned athletic event into a scene of bloody carnage. Seventeen of those wounded lost limbs.
Tsarnaev was also convicted of participating with his brother in the slaying of an MIT police officer several days after the bombing and in a violent confrontation with police in Watertown shortly afterwards.
A US District Court jury had already sentenced Tsarnaev to death. US District Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. formalized that sentence at the end of the hearing.
“I sentence you to the penalty of death by execution,” O’Toole said.
The judge told Tsarnaev he would be remembered as a symbol of evil.
“No one will remember that your teachers were fond of you, that you were funny, a good athlete,’’ he said. “Whenever your name is mentioned, what will be remembered is the evil you have done.’’
“What will be remembered is that you murdered and maimed. … It was a monstrous self-deception. You had to forget your own humanity, the common humanity you shared with your brother Martin.’’ Martin Richard, 8, who was at the marathon finish line for a family outing, was the youngest victim of the bombing.
US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Assistant US Attorney William Weinreb, one of the trial prosecutors, said after the sentencing hearing was over that they were struck by what Tsarnaev did not say.
“We didn’t hear a word about the reason why he did this crime,’’ said Weinreb.
Weinreb said Tsarnaev had apologized for “political reasons” and noted that “he did not renounce terrorism or violent extremism.”
Weinreb said Tsarnaev was immediately placed in the custody of the US Bureau of Prison, and it will be up to that agency to decide if he goes immediately to Terre Haute, Ind., where most death row inmates go, or if he goes to a maximum-security prison in Florence, Colo.
Tsarnaev’s statement came after an outpouring of profound pain and searing anger from 24 people who gave victim impact statements.
“I don’t know what to say to you,’’ said Patricia Campbell, mother of victim Krystle Campbell, 29. “What you did to my daughter was disgusting.’’
Bill and Denise Richard, parents of Martin Richard, denounced Tsarnaev for choosing to help his brother, Tamerlan, wage the attack, which not only killed Martin but inflicted grievous injuries on the rest of the family.
“He chose to do nothing to prevent all of this from happening. He chose hate. He chose destruction. He chose death,’’ Bill Richard said in a joint statement.
“We choose love. We choose kindness. We choose peace,’’ Richard said. “This is our response to hate. That’s what makes us different from him.”
Twenty-three-year-old Lingzi Lu, a Boston University graduate student from China, was the third victim of the bombing. MIT Police Officer Sean Collier was shot several days later while he was sitting in his cruiser on the MIT campus, in an unsuccessful attempt by the brothers to get his gun.
At least a dozen of the 18 jurors were also in the courtroom Wednesday. During the victim impact testimony, the forewoman could be seen wiping tears from her eyes.
In sentencing Tsarnaev, O’Toole told him that if he truly believed his God wanted him to kill people, then he followed a “cruel god” — and not the God of Islam.
“They induce you not to a path of glory, but a judgment of condemnation,’’ O’Toole said.
O’Toole noted that the trial had been grueling both because of its length and because of the harrowing testimony and graphic photos introduced as evidence. He said he would never forget testimony about the individual acts of heroism by first responders and Marathon spectators who turned belts into tourniquets and drinks into fire extinguishers.
“Those of us who sat through this, from beginning to end, heard things they will never forget, good and bad,” O’Toole said. “We all heard about the heroes, and there were many.’’
Outside the courthouse, Henry Borgard, one of those who gave victim impact statements, said he welcomed Tsarnaev’s decision to speak.
“I have forgiven him,’’ he said. “I have come to a place of peace, and I genuinely hope he does, as well. To hear him he say, ‘I’m sorry’ is enough for me.’’
Borgard, 23, said that when he gave his statement in court he was unnerved because when he looked up from his statement, he saw Tsarnaev looking back.
“When I made eye contact with him, I wasn’t looking into the face of a criminal, I was looking at the face of a boy,’’ he said.
But Lynn Julian, another survivor, was skeptical about Tsarnaev’s motivations. “A simple believable apology would have been great,’’ she said. “There was nothing simple and nothing sincere.”
Posted by Women Against Shariah on Thursday, June 25, 2015
From the Boston Globe: