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Prosecutors urge jury to sentence Boston Marathon bomber to death

Published May 14, 2015

BOSTON — Prosecutors and defense attorneys on Wednesday made their final appeals to the jury that will decide the fate of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as jurors began deliberating whether the Boston Marathon bomber should get life in prison or the death penalty.

"The choice between these very serious alternatives is yours and yours alone to make," Judge George O'Toole Jr. told the panel.

Jurors got the case late in the day and deliberated for about 45 minutes before going home. They return to the federal courthouse today to resume their work.

The jury must be unanimous in its decision to impose the death penalty. If even a single member votes against death, Tsarnaev will get life in prison.

Prosecutor Steve Mellin said Tsarnaev wanted to cause victims as much physical pain as possible to make a political statement.

"The bombs burned their skin, shattered their bones and ripped their flesh," Mellin said. The blasts "disfigured their bodies, twisted their limbs and punched gaping holes into their legs and torsos."

"Merely killing the person," he said, "isn't nearly as terrifying as shredding them apart."

Defense attorney Judy Clarke asked jurors to spare Tsarnaev's life, saying her client "is not the worst of the worst, and that's what the death penalty is reserved for."

"We think that we have shown you that it's not only possible, but probable that Dzhokhar has potential for redemption," she said, adding that he was "genuinely sorry for what he's done."

The prosecutor showed a large photograph of 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was killed in the attack, and other children standing on a metal barricade near where Tsarnaev placed his bomb. Another photo showed bloodied victims on the sidewalk.

"This is what terrorism looks like," Mellin said.

Tsarnaev, he said, showed no regret after the bombings, calmly going to buy milk 20 minutes later.

"He acted like it was any other day. He was stress-free and remorse-free. He didn't care because the death and misery was what he sought that day."

During the four-month trial, prosecutors portrayed Tsarnaev as a callous, unrepentant terrorist who carried out the deadly attack with his radicalized older brother, Tamerlan.

From the start, Tsarnaev's lawyers admitted he participated in the bombing, but they told the jury he was "a good kid" who was led astray by Tamerlan, who wanted to punish the United States for its actions in Muslim countries.