BOSTON – The 21-year-old man convicted for his role in the Boston Marathon bombing made his first public statement since a jury said he should be sentenced to death, apologizing on Wednesday to victims of the attack, several of whom were in the courtroom.
“I’d like to now apologize to the victims and the survivors,” Dzhokhar Tsarnaev said, the first time he has expressed remorse for the bombings. He added: “I am sorry for the lives I have taken and suffering I have caused you and the damage I have done.”
The judge then formally sentenced him to death.
Tsarnaev spoke in a courtroom crowded with people who, earlier in the day, had spoken directly to him and called him a leech, coward and a liar.
He had returned to a federal courtroom for his sentence. Tsarnaev was found guilty in April, two years after the bombings that killed three people and injured more than 260 others.
Last month, the jury that convicted him decided unanimously that he should be sentenced to death, rejecting appeals from his attorneys, who argued that he carried out the attacks under the sway of his older brother. The federal death penalty statute states that the judge must follow the jury’s recommendation.
The relatives of people killed and injured in the attacks were given a chance to speak to Tsarnaev.
The parents of Krystal Campbell, 29, who was killed in the bombing, spoke briefly. Her mother, Patricia, told Tsarnaev the choices he made were “despicable” and “what you did was disgusting.”
“I think the jury did the right thing,” she said.
Tsarnaev was also charged with killing Sean Collier, 27, a police officer for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the aftermath of the attack. Collier’s stepsister Jennifer Rogers had sharp words for the killer, saying he had shown no remorse as he swaggered into court thinking it was a party.
“He’s a coward and a liar,” she said. “He showed no remorse. He has not once shown that he cares about a single person but himself. He is a leech.”
William and Denise Richard, parents of 8-year-old Martin Richard who was killed in the blast, also a made a statement.
“He chose hate,” the statement said. “He chose destruction. He chose death. This is all on him. We choose love. We choose kindness. We choose peace. This is our response to hate. That’s what makes us different from him.”
They said they had hoped he would spend the rest of life in prison instead of receiving the death sentence but “on the day he meets his maker, may he understand what he’s done, and may justice and peace be found.”
Victims and family members, some in tears, described for hours the horrors they endured after the bombings.
They detailed the many sleepless nights, post-traumatic stress disorders, lost income, nightmares, panic attacks, guilt, depression and flashbacks.
“Our injuries are not disappearing,” said Scott Weisberg, a family doctor from Birmingham, Alabama, who crossed the finish line seconds before the first bomb detonated.
In addition to Tsarnaev and these victims, 13 of the 18 jurors were in the courtroom Wednesday to hear these statements.
Tsarnaev sat listening to the remarks without any expression, flanked by his attorneys in the courtroom.
Tsarnaev becomes the 62nd inmate on federal death row, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. He will be taken to a cell in Terre Haute, Indiana, where he will remain during an appeals process that could likely stretch on for years.