Jury begins deliberations in Boston bombing

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 07, 2015 7:09 AM

By Elizabeth Barber

BOSTON (Reuters) - The jury that will determine whether Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is guilty of carrying out the 2013 bombing attack on the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured 264 is due to begin deliberations on Tuesday.

Tsarnaev, 21, is also charged with shooting a police officer to death three days after prosecutors contend he and his older brother set of a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs at the race's crowded finish line on April 15, 2013.

The question of whether the ethnic Chechen defendant is guilty of 30 criminal counts may be the easy part of the jury's job. If they find him guilty, the same 12 jurors will hear a second round of evidence before determining whether to sentence Tsarnaev to death or to life in prison without possibility of parole.

"The judgment is entirely yours," U.S. District Judge George O’Toole told the jurors on Monday after they heard closing arguments by prosecutors and Tsarnaev's lawyers.

Defense lawyer Judy Clarke readily admitted her client's responsibility on Monday but contended that 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been the driving force behind the attack. Tamerlan died early on April 19, 2013 after his brother ran him over with a car at the end of a gunfight with police.

"Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stands ready to, by your verdict, be held responsible for his actions," Clarke told jurors on Monday. "We don't deny that Dzhokhar fully participated in the events, but, were it not for Tamerlan, it would not have happened."

Prosecutors called 92 witnesses over the last month to make the case that Tsarnaev was an equal partner with his brother in plotting the bombings as vengeance for U.S. military campaigns in Muslim-majority countries. The defense called just four witnesses, including an FBI photographer who also testified for the prosecution.

The blasts killed restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, 29, Chinese exchange student Lingzi Lu, 23, and 8-year-old Martin Richard. Tsarnaev is also accused of the fatal shooting of Massachusetts of Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, 26.

Before sending the jury to deliberate on Tsarnaev’s guilt, O’Toole told jurors that they should not be guided by their emotions in returning a verdict, referring to the photos and videos of carnage that the prosecution has shown throughout the trial.

"Those are, of course, difficult to look at," the judge said. "But you should not let any photographs stir up emotions, such that they override your careful and rational assessment of the evidence."

(Editing by Scott Malone)