Jury ends 1st full day without verdict in Tsarnaev penalty phase

AP Photo/Jane Flavell Collins

BOSTON (WPRI/AP) — Jurors considering the fate of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev ended deliberations Thursday without reaching a verdict in the penalty phase of the case.

During their first full day of deliberations, jurors sent U.S. District Judge George O’Toole Jr. two notes, seeking clarification on parts of their 24-page penalty phase verdict form.

One note concerned Tsarnaev’s actions and intent — similar to one sent before the last verdict. The judge instructed jurors to consider the actions and intent of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev only,  not the actions or intent of anybody else – namely his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

The second note addressed unanimity in a particular section and how they should record their views. The judge again attempted to provide clarity.

The verdict form contains a series of aggravating and mitigating factors. Aggravating towards death; mitigating towards life. However, unlike the first verdict, no factor in the penalty phase demands a particular outcome. It’s entirely up to the jury.

Among the aggravating factors for jurors are to consider include; whether Tsarnaev knowingly created a grave risk of death via his actions;  whether his offenses were especially heinous, cruel and depraved; whether there was substantial planning and premeditation; whether Tsarnaev is responsible for the death of Martin Richard, particularly vulnerable due to youth; and whether Tsarnaev has demonstrated a lack of remorse.

Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured when two pressure-cooker bombs packed with shrapnel exploded near the marathon finish line April 15, 2013. Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, also killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer days later.

The same jury that convicted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of all 30 charges against him must now decide whether he gets life in prison or death.

Prosecutors reminded jurors of the pain and suffering caused by the bombing and said Tsarnaev, a 21-year-old former college student, deserves to die for what he did.

During closing arguments Wednesday, prosecutor Steve Mellin told the jury that Tsarnaev is a callous “remorse-free” terrorist who bombed the marathon with Tamerlan to make a political statement against the U.S. for its wars in Muslim countries.

Mellin said Tsarnaev wanted to cause his victims as much physical pain as possible.

“The bombs burned their skin, shattered their bones and ripped their flesh,” Mellin said. “The blasts disfigured their bodies, twisted their limbs and punched gaping holes into their legs and torsos.”

Defense attorney Judy Clarke asked jurors to spare Tsarnaev’s life, saying her client “is not the worst of the worst, and that’s what the death penalty is reserved for.”

“We think that we have shown you that it’s not only possible but probable that Dzhokhar has potential for redemption,” she said, adding that he was “genuinely sorry for what he’s done.”

The prosecutor showed a large photograph of 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was killed in the attack, and other children standing on a metal barricade. Tsarnaev placed his bomb just 3½ feet from the children. Another photo showed bloodied victims on the sidewalk.

“This is what terrorism looks like,” Mellin said.

Tsarnaev, he said, showed no regret after the bombings, calmly going to buy a half gallon of milk 20 minutes later.

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