Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Boston bomber says "sorry" before formal death sentence

Published:Wednesday | June 24, 2015 | 6:50 PM
Boston Marathon bombing victim Erika Brannock (foreground left) and her mother Carol Downing (foreground right) walk past demonstrators outside federal court in Bostonn today.

BOSTON (AP):

In a startling turn, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev rose to his feet and apologised to the victims and their loved ones for the first time Wednesday just before a judge formally sentenced him to death.

"I am sorry for the lives that I've taken, for the suffering that I've caused you, for the damage that I've done – irreparable damage," the 21-year-old college student said in his Russian accent, breaking more than two years of public silence.

To the victims, he said: "I pray for your relief, for your healing."

After Tsarnaev said his piece, US District Judge George O'Toole Jr quoted Shakespeare's line "The evil that men do lives after them. The good is often interred with their bones."

"So it will be for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev," the judge said, telling Tsarnaev that no one will remember that his teachers were fond of him, that his friends found him fun to be with or that he showed compassion to disabled people.

"What will be remembered is that you murdered and maimed innocent people, and that you did it willfully and intentionally. You did it on purpose," O'Toole said.

"I sentence you to the penalty of death by execution," he said.

Tsarnaev looked down and rubbed his hands together as the judge pronounced his fate.

The apology came after Tsarnaev listened impassively for about three hours as a procession of victims and their loved ones lashed out at him for his "cowardly" and "disgusting" acts.

"He can't possibly have had a soul to do such a horrible thing," said Karen Rand McWatters, who lost a leg in the attack and whose best friend, 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, was killed.

The outcome of the proceedings was never in doubt: The judge was required under law to impose the jury's death sentence for the April 15, 2013, attack that killed three people and wounded more than 260.

The only real suspense was whether Tsarnaev would say anything when given a chance to speak near the end of the proceedings.

Until Wednesday, he had said almost nothing publicly since his arrest more than two years ago, offering neither remorse nor explanation.

During his trial, he showed a trace of emotion only once, when he cried while his Russian aunt was on the stand. And the only evidence of any remorse came from Sister Helen Prejean, a prominent death penalty opponent, who quoted him as saying of the victims: "No one deserves to suffer like they did."

In condemning him to death, the jury cited his lack of remorse as one of many factors.

His apology was a five-minute address peppered with religious references and praise of Allah. He paused several times, looking as if he was trying to maintain his composure.

Outside court, some bombing survivors said they doubted Tsarnaev's sincerity, given his lack of remorse during the trial.