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Jury Sentences Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev To Death

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been sentenced to death. He had been found guilty on 30 federal charges, 17 of which carried the possibility of the death penalty. Tsarnaev was held responsible for killing three people and injuring more than 260 others near the race's finish line, with bombs placed there by him and his brother. A police officer was also killed a few days after that 2013 bombing. David Boeri of member station WBUR was in court as a sentence was read this afternoon and joins us now.

And David, explain to us, how did the jury break down the sentence on those 30 counts?

DAVID BOERI, BYLINE: Audie, of 17 that could've meant the death penalty, the jury imposed the death sentence in six of those counts. It's somewhat surprising. It looks rather sophisticated. What it appears that they did is that they took the one killing that was involving the bomb that was placed by Dzhokhar's older brother, Tamerlan, elsewhere on the Boylston Street. They did not impose the death penalty for that. And they have not imposed the death penalty on the crimes involved with the murder of MIT police officer Sean Collier or - following that in a shootout in Watertown. Now, again, they convicted of all 30 counts in the earlier phase but they have not imposed the death penalty regarding those counts I just talked about.

CORNISH: And the defense had hoped they could convince the jury to accept some mitigating factors and not sentence him to death, but, how did they react to this decision?

BOERI: Their verdict slip, Audie, indicates that they - very few of them were persuaded by the defense, the main defense argument that, in fact, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was the mastermind, the leader, that he held sway over his brother and that the younger brother, Dzhokhar, followed him. They also rejected the idea that young Dzhokhar was remorseful, and they also rejected the idea that he might not commit any other crimes once he's in prison.

CORNISH: David, you were in the courtroom. What did you see from survivors, victims' families?

BOERI: It was striking, Audie, that the victims' families were all very subdued. The families and friends were subdued. The whole courtroom was subdued for this reading. It lasted - let me see - 21 minutes. The only emotion that was shown was shown by the jurors. They were very nervous standing while that long read took place. And then after they had imposed the death penalty on those various counts, a number of them broke down. They were crying. Male jurors, female jurors, they were upset. They were looking down. Some of them looked like they were breaking down.

CORNISH: And finally, how did Tsarnaev himself react?

BOERI: The same he's reacted throughout this trial, Audie. It's been a real mystery. He is inscrutable, impassive and seemingly indifferent. And that perception of his indifference clearly hurt him with the jurors.

CORNISH: Finally, the chief federal prosecutor in Boston, Carmen Ortiz, spoke after the sentencing. What did she have to say?

BOERI: She said this was not a religious crime, it was a political crime. And it did not represent Muslim beliefs. And here's more of what she said.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CARMEN ORTIZ: Today is not a day for celebration. It is not a day for political or moral debate. It is a day for reflection and healing.

BOERI: And the U.S. attorney was followed by victims and witnesses of the bombings that day. And Michael Ward, who was a first responder, a firefighter, said of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev he wanted to go to hell. That's what he wanted, only he's going to get there earlier than what he wanted.

CORNISH: That's WBUR's David Boeri. He was in federal court in Boston today where a jury sentenced Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death.

David, thank you.

BOERI: You're welcome, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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