Boston Marathon bomber apologizes in first public remarks

Boston Marathon bomber apologizes in first public remarks
© FBI

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev issued a stirring and unexpected apology for the 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon on Wednesday, in his first public remarks since the attack.

“I am sorry for the lives that I have taken, for the suffering that I have caused you, for the damage — the irreparable damage,” Tsarnaev told victims and their family members in a Boston courtroom.

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“I ask Allah for mercy for me and for my brother” he told a reportedly stunned and packed court.

“I pray to Allah to bestow his mercy on you,” he added, according to reporters in the room. “I pray for your relief, for your healing.”

Tsarnaev was found guilty of all 30 charges related to the bombing in April and sentenced in May to be executed. The bombing carried out by Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan killed three people and injured more than 200, in a high-profile terror attack and days-long manhunt that kept the nation riveted.

Tsarnaev offered to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence in October, according to his lawyer, Judy Clarke, but the government refused.

Wednesday’s hearing was held so Judge George O’Toole could formally hand down the death sentence to Tsarnaev.

“Whenever your name is mentioned, what will be remembered is the evil you have done,” O’Toole told Tsarnaev, according to The Boston Globe.

In coming days, Tsarnaev will be transferred to a federal facility and likely put on death row in Terre Haute, Ind. He has the chance to appeal the decision, which could leave the case locked up in the court for years.

His apology came after three hours of statements from more than two dozen family members and victims of the attack. The emotional and often tearful remarks repeatedly condemned Tsarnaev’s actions and pleaded with him to show remorse.

“You ruined so many lives that day, but you also ruined your own,” Karen McWatters told Tsarnaev, according to reporters on the scene. McWatters lost a leg in the blast and held the hand of her friend, Krystle Campbell, as she died next to her.

McWatters said remorse from Tsarnaev could help discourage others from following in his footsteps.

“You can tell them of your regret, and you can discourage them,” she said

Others declined to directly address the bomber and instead talked about the agony that has haunted them since the April 2013 attack.

“The past two years have been hell, and nothing can adequately describe how I feel,” said Henry Borgard, a student who was walking by the blast site. He has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, he said, and suffers from intense survivor’s guilt. 

“I’ve had trouble finding words, because no words can do justice to the atrocities the Tsarnaev brothers committed.”

“On the day he meets his maker, may he understand what he has done and may justice and peace be found,” added Bill Richard, the father of 8 year-old Martin Richard, who was killed in the explosion. 

Throughout the comments, Tsarnaev reportedly sat unmoved in his chair, fidgeting and largely looking at his hands.

The pose was reminiscent of his actions during the trial, which eventually led to his conviction and death sentence.

“The defendant, he sat there blank,” Meghan Zipin, a marathon runner who was traumatized by the bombing, reportedly said. “I realized: I’m alive, and he’s already dead.”

The extended session was interrupted by a 45-minute lunch break, during which time a man was arrested for acting suspiciously outside the courtroom.

Pictures of the scene showed a police officer holding a large meat cleaver that apparently was found inside the man’s car. 

— This story was updated at 2:19 p.m.