Dzhokar Tsarnaev, accused of bombing the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013 has been sentenced to death by lethal injection today.
The Boston, Massachusetts jury deliberated for 15 hours over three days before handing their verdict down.
Tsarnaev was found guilty on April 8 on all 30 counts of his indictment—17 of which carried the possibility of the death penalty—just a week shy of two years from the bombing that killed 3 and injured more than 260.
Dzhokar and his brother Tamerlan subsequently murdered MIT police officer Sean Collier, and led authorities on a manhunt through Watertown, MA that ended with Tamerlan’s death and Dzhokar’s surrender.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch released a statement, saying in part, “…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 victim and their families.”
The family of one of those victims, 8-year-old Martin Richards, publically opposed the idea of Tsarnaev’s execution.
“The defendant murdered our 8-year-old son, maimed our 7-year-old daughter, and stole part of our soul,” the family wrote in a statement. “We know that the government has its reasons for seeking the death penalty, but the continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives.”
Tsarnaev will be the fourth person executed by the federal government since Gregg v. Georgia ended the United States’ moratorium on the death penalty.
The death penalty is a moral case that the United States has wrestled with for decades. It was banned for a period of time during the 1970s and many states haven’t executed a prisoner since Gregg v. Georgia. The death penalty inspires logical arguments from both sides that aren’t immediately laughed off. The United States is one very few nations that still regularly use the death penalty—the only 1st world western country in that group.
Both sides know that death is serious, it is ultimate, and it ought to be respected.
Does the State have the right to play God? Does the death penalty truly deter the crimes that call for it? These are questions that many seek to answer but are often met with competing studies and often confusing answers.
Personally, I’ve been on both sides of the fence and I’m still not 100% firm on my conviction in regards to the death penalty. I do know this, however. Massachusetts would not have executed Dzhokar Tsarnaev if this had been placed in their jurisdiction. The United States believed this to be a terrorist attack and an overt, political—perhaps religious—statement.
The United States took it upon themselves to charge Tsarnaev with federal crimes and make his impending execution possible.
One argument that I do not accept is that the death penalty is wrong because basically “two wrongs don’t make a right.” No one is without blood on their hands, but justice must still be administered. Tsarnaev lacked a respect for life and the country that he harmed. Now, he will learn respect in the harshest, most ultimate way possible.
I don’t know what his last thoughts will be as he starts to lose consciousness, but I hope that just a couple of them will be regret and penance.