Skip to main content

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sentenced to death for 2013 Boston Marathon bombing

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sentenced to death for 2013 Boston Marathon bombing

Share this story

Handout/Getty Images

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be put to death for his role in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. After convicting Tsarnaev of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and 29 other charges last month, today a federal court jury voted that he receive capital punishment in the form of lethal injection. Dzhokhar and older brother Tamerlan (who was later killed during a shootout with police) set off two homemade pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the famed Boston Marathon. Three people were killed and over 250 were injured by the explosions and resulting shrapnel; many required amputations and other life-altering surgeries.

During his trial, the younger Tsarnaev's defense team tried to convince a jury that he'd been manipulated by his older brother. (Dzhokhar was 19 when he and Tamerlan executed the plot.) Tsarnaev's attorney, Judy Clarke, has a history of convincing jurors to spare her clients from death. During the sentencing phase, Clarke summoned witnesses including Tsarnaev's relatives, former friends, and teachers. And jurors generally agree that he had been well liked by educators and his former friends. Before the sentencing, parents of the youngest bombing victim also asked that capital punishment be taken off the table so as to prevent a drawn out appeals process and years of the painful memory resurfacing.

But only three jurors agreed that Dzhokhar had been influenced by his older sibling and otherwise wouldn't have been involved. The prosecution's attempt to portray Dzhokhar as a ruthless terrorist and willing participant in the act ultimately proved more successful. Aside from those killed and injured at the scene, an MIT campus police officer was murdered by the Tsarnaevs as the manhunt to capture the brothers began. The verdict will undoubtedly set off a long appeals process, but most people sentenced to death in federal court ultimately fail to escape the ruling.