BOSTON — The fate of Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be entrusted to jurors today when they start deliberating the guilt of the 21-year-old American accused of carrying out the deadly 2013 attacks.
Three people were killed and 264 others wounded in the twin blasts at the city's marathon, the worst attack in the United States since the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Government prosecutors portrayed the Muslim immigrant, who became a US citizen in 2012, as a callous terrorist who carried out the bombings to bring holy war to the northeastern US city and punish the United States.
Tsarnaev's lawyers admit that he planted one of the bombs, but have portrayed him as a feckless accomplice, bullied or manipulated into taking part by his more radical elder brother.
From today, the jury must decide whether Tsarnaev is guilty on 30 counts related to the April 15, 2013 attacks, and the subsequent murder of a police officer, a car jacking and a shootout with police while on the run.
Seventeen of those charges carry the possibility of the death penalty.
The first stage of the one-month trial wrapped up yesterday with closing statements from the government and the defence, and lengthy jury instructions from federal Judge George O'Toole.
If Tsarnaev is convicted, the trial will enter a second stage, when the jury determines whether he should be executed or spend the rest of his life behind bars without parole – the only sentencing options available.
Prosecutors spent four weeks building their case, calling 92 witnesses in an effort to paint Tsarnaev as an active and willing bomber alongside his elder brother, who was killed by police while on the run.
"He wanted to terrorise this country. He wanted to punish America for what it was doing to his people," assistant US attorney Aloke Chakravarty told the court in an emotional closing statement yesterday. — AFP