As the Boston Marathon Bombing trial nears its end, Prosecutors and Lawyers for the accused, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, began their closing arguments on Monday. This turn is leading towards the conclusion of the proceedings, before the jury decides if the young man is guilty and if so, what his sentence should be.
A number of legal experts agree that he will be guilty of most, if not all, of the 30 counts of criminal activity presented. 17 of those charges come with the potential of the death penalty. Even Tsarnaev’s defense has admitted that he did what he’s been accused of doing. Their goal from the beginning has been to present the man as an innocent in this situation, under the influence of his older brother Tamerlan.
The bombing took place on April 15, 2013, near the finish line at the annual Boston Marathon. Two pressure-cooker home-made bombs were placed on the crowded sidewalks as runners began making their way through the last leg of the race. Three people were killed and over 260 people were injured, some critically. During the trial, the prosecution called 92 witnesses, including those who have lost limbs from the duel blasts. The defense only called 4 witnesses before resting their case. None of Tsarnaev family has taken the stand, with several members of the family having their own legal issues and brushes with the law in the past. Two of Dzhokhar’s uncles bailed on attending the proceedings, feeling that they could do little to help the situation.
Judy Clarke, one of Tsarnaev’s lawyers, has been arguing to keep her client away from the death penalty. “It was him,” she remarked in her opening statement. But she believes that Dzhokhar’s brother, Tamerlan was the mastermind. At the time, the accused was 19, and could easily have been wrapped up in his older brother’s ideals. Tamerlan’s computer and travel history suggest a radical change in beliefs, and was looking for a way to retaliate against the U.S., condemning the country for their actions against Muslims.
Among the defense’s witnesses was an FBI fingerprint expert. According to testimony, Tamerlan’s prints were abundant on parts of the pressure-cooker bomb, and on the Tupperware bomb found days later after a police shootout to apprehend the suspects. Another expect called to the stand focused on the digital aspect of the brother’s plans. Tamerlan focused his searches on fireworks, detonators, and bomb making materials. Dzhokhar’s computer was used mostly for social media, in particular a Russian website similar to Facebook. Any bomb making searches were transferred over to Tamerlan’s computer.
The same jury whom will decide Tsarnaev’s guilt or innocence will also determine his fate on the presented charges, if found guilty. Painting the picture of the young, innocent college boy, intimidated by his older brother, the defense hopes this will help resonate with the jury and bring down the terms of the sentence from the death penalty to life in prison.
What do you think? Should Tsarnaev receive the death penalty? Or is he a victim of circumstance with his brother taking the lead?