Jury deliberations resume in marathon bombing penalty phase

Jurors in the trial of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (joh-HAHR’ tsahr-NEYE’-ehv) have resumed deliberating over whether he should be sentenced to life in prison or the death penalty.

Jurors deliberated about 8½ hours Wednesday and Thursday without reaching a verdict. They resumed deliberations Friday morning.

The jury must weigh any mitigating factors that Tsarnaev’s lawyers say support their argument for life in prison against any aggravating factors that prosecutors say support their call for the death penalty.

Seventeen of the 30 charges Tsarnaev was convicted of carry the possibility of the death penalty.

Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured when two pressure-cooker bombs packed with shrapnel exploded near the marathon finish line April 15, 2013. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer was killed days later.


 The jurors, who are not sequestered, heard an equally impassioned argument from the defense. Judy Clarke, the lead defense lawyer, told the jury in her 75-minute closing that while Mr. Tsarnaev’s crimes were “senseless and catastrophic,” he, himself, was not the “worst of the worst,” for whom the death penalty is reserved.

“We ask you to choose life, yes, even for the Boston Marathon bomber,” Ms. Clarke said. She added that a sentence of life does not dishonor the victims or minimize Mr. Tsarnaev’s crimes. “The sentence of life allows for hope, for redemption, for healing for everyone involved,” she said. “It’s a sentence that reflects justice and mercy.”

The jury mulling Mr. Tsarnaev’s fate is the same one that convicted him last month of all 30 charges against him in connection with the 2013 bombings, which killed three people, maimed 17 and wounded more than 240 others. He was also convicted of killing an M.I.T. police officer and of participating in a carjacking and a violent shootout with the police.

The closing arguments on Wednesday covered familiar terrain. The lawyers disputed the degree to which Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the defendant’s older brother, had brainwashed Dzhokhar into joining in the bombings. And they offered sharply divergent views on how bad a life sentence would be inside the supermax prison in Florence, Colo.

But they also ventured onto new ground, particularly as they debated the value of testimony from Sister Helen Prejean, a nationally known opponent of the death penalty. She testified Monday that she had met with Mr. Tsarnaev five times and that “he was genuinely sorry for what he did.” She quoted him as saying of his victims, “No one deserves to suffer like they did.”

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