(BOSTON) — Prosecutors and the defense for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will make their closing arguments Monday, after which the jury will be sent to deliberate Tsarnaev’s guilt or innocence in a case that could carry the death penalty.
Tsarnaev stands accused of 30 counts related to the deadly 2013 bombing, as well as the murder of a police officer days after the blasts. Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty, but his attorney admitted from the start that he and his older brother, Tamerlan, were responsible for the death and destruction. However, the defense argued that Dzhokhar was only acting under the influence of Tamerlan, who they painted as the violent extremist.
Of the 30 counts, more than half are death penalty-eligible, meaning if Tsarnaev is convicted on just one of those, a later sentencing hearing by the same jury could hand down the ultimate punishment.
Twin blasts near the finish line of the April 2013 marathon killed three people and injured some 260 others. In a still image taken just before the explosion, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev can be seen apparently dropping a backpack that prosecutors said contained a bomb in the middle of the crowd, just behind eight-year-old Martin Richard, who was killed in the blast.
Earlier in the trial, the prosecution called Richard’s father, Bill, as a witness to describe what happened after the bomb went off.
“I saw a little boy who had his body severely damaged by an explosion,” Bill Richard told the jury. “I just knew from what I saw that there was no chance…He was eight years old.”
More carnage followed the bombing when, three days later, the brothers alleged murdered an MIT police officer as he sat in his cruiser. Hours later, when authorities finally caught up to them, the brothers entered into a vicious firefight with police in the Boston suburb of Watertown. Tamerlan was killed after Dzhokhar ran over him in a vehicle during his escape from the gunfight.
Dzhokhar was later found, bloody and hiding in a dry-docked boat. On the walls of the boat he had written an anti-American screed, saying, “The U.S. government is killing our innocent civilians but most of you already know that…I can’t stand to see such evil go unpunished.”
At trial the defense painted Tamerlan as the plot’s mastermind and noted that FBI analysts found Tamerlan’s fingerprints on the bomb materials, but not Dzhokhar’s. Prosecutors, on the other hand, attempted to show the Dzhokhar had fed into radicalization in his own right, researching jihadi material online and referencing a high-profile al Qaeda figure on a secret Twitter account.
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