Boston Marathon Bombing Trial To Move To Penalty Phase

Originally published on April 9, 2015 7:34 am
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The young man who admitted to bombing the Boston Marathon was found guilty on all counts yesterday in a federal court. Now the defense team for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will try to convince the jurors who convicted him not to impose the death penalty. From member station WGBH, Adam Reilly has more.

ADAM REILLY, BYLINE: It took just a day and a half for jurors to find Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty on 30 separate counts, 17 of which could lead to a death sentence. The verdict wasn't a complete surprise. Early on, Tsarnaev's team admitted that he had participated in the Boston Marathon bombings. But he also claimed he was led into terrorism by his older brother, Tamerlan, who's now deceased. Tsarnaev's team also said that it was Tamerlan who killed MIT police officer Sean Collier after the bombings and then carjacked an unsuspecting driver. But the prosecution had a mountain of damning evidence. It showed an image of Tsarnaev standing directly behind 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was killed in the ensuing blast. It highlighted Tsarnaev's chillingly ordinary behavior afterward, showing a video of him buying milk at Whole Foods and a tweet in which he proclaimed himself a stress-free kind of guy. The prosecution also highlighted troubling material on Tsarnaev's laptop, including an article on do-it-yourself bomb making. And it described in horrific detail the physical damage sustained by the three people who died in the bombings. Yesterday, as guilty finding after guilty finding was read aloud, Tsarnaev's demeanor changed subtly. Throughout the trial, he looked unfazed. But yesterday, he crossed his arms tightly around his body twice. Afterward, marathon bombing survivor Karen Brassard was asked if she had hoped to see Tsarnaev show contrition.

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KAREN BRASSARD: Personally, I wouldn't have bought it. I would have been more frustrated if he had shown it because throughout this whole thing, he's been, to use my word, arrogant, walking in and out of the courtroom and completely disinterested. So if I saw anything from him today, I would have been a little more frustrated.

REILLY: Now the trial moves to the sentencing phase in which the defense will try to convince jurors not to sentence Tsarnaev to death. The emphatic verdict suggests that may be difficult. But Tsarnaev's attorneys will benefit from one new bit of legal freedom. At the trial's outset, Judge George O'Toole said the defense couldn't focus on Tamerlan's alleged influence until after the verdict, although Dzhokhar's attorneys did what they could to bring it up. Now they can address it as directly and fully as they'd like. The sentencing phase may begin as early as next week. For NPR News, I'm Adam Reilly in Boston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.