Boston Marathon bomber sentenced to death
© FBI

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been sentenced to death for his role in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and injured more than 200.

Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 charges in the bombing and its aftermath by the same jury in April. The jury had to unanimously agree to sentence him to the death. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Tsarnaev is widely expected to appeal, but that process typically takes years. The federal government executes prisoners by lethal injection. 

A federal judge will officially sentence Tsarnaev to the death penalty at an upcoming hearing, as he is largely bound by the jury's finding.

After being informed of the verdict, Anzor Tsarnaev, Dzhokar's father, told ABC News in a statement from the Dagestan region of Russia "We will fight. We will fight until the end."

Defense lawyers had argued Tsarnaev had been influenced by his brother, Tamerlan, who died as officers pursued the two brothers, and that his life should be spared. But federal prosecutors painted him as a cold-hearted killer who deserves the death penalty. 

Jurors sentenced Tsarnaev to the death penalty for a number of counts related to the deaths of bombing victims: using a weapon of mass destruction, bombing a public place, possession of a firearm in a bombing and malicious destruction of property with an explosive, according to the Boston Globe.  

The jurors also returned a lengthy sentencing verdict that included a number of mitigating factors from the tragic attacks. The majority of jurors cast doubt on the defense’s characterization of Dzhokhar, as only three found that Tamerlan led the attacks and that Dzhokhar would not have committed the crimes but for Tamerlan’s involvement, according to the Boston Globe

While the prominent anti-death penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean took to the stand during the sentencing phase to tell jurors that she believed Tsarnaev was sorry for his actions, only two jurors found that he showed remorse. 

Arguments wrapped up earlier this week and the jury deliberated for 14 hours before reaching a conclusion. A number of survivors sat in the court to hear the verdict's announcement, including relatives of Martin Richard, the 8-year-old boy who died in the blast. 

The Richard family wrote an op-ed in the Boston Globe calling on Tsarnaev to receive life in prison so that they do not have to endure the lengthy appeals process that inevitably comes with the death penalty.

Lu Lingzi, 23, and Krystle Campbell, 29, were also killed in the bombing. Massachussetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, 26, died days later after the Tsarnaev brothers shot him in his squad car in Cambridge, Mass., during the manhunt for the suspects.

Massachusetts does not have the death penalty, but prosecutors brought Tsarnaev up on federal charges. While federal judges have sentenced people to the death penalty as recently as last year, no one on death row has been executed since 2003, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. 

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement, "Tsarnaev coldly and callously perpetrated a terrorist attack."

“We know all too well that no verdict can heal the souls of those who lost loved ones, nor the minds and bodies of those who suffered life-changing injuries from this cowardly attack," she said.

"But the ultimate penalty is a fitting punishment for this horrific crime, and we hope that the completion of this prosecution will bring some measure of closure to the victims and their families."

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he hopes the verdict “provides a small amount of closure” for all those impacted by the bombing.

“We will forever remember and honor those who lost their lives and were affected by those senseless acts of violence on our City,” he said in a statement.

“Today, more than ever, we know that Boston is a City of hope, strength and resilience, that can overcome any challenge."

— This story was updated at 4:40 p.m.