opened in dramatic fashion Tuesday, with federal prosecutors portraying
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as a coldblooded killer and “America’s worst
The jury that will decide whether the 21-year-old
former college student should be executed heard witnesses who lost legs
or loved ones in the April 15, 2013, bombing.
First, the jury was
shown large, vibrant pictures of the four people killed in the Boston
Marathon bombing and its aftermath. Then prosecutors pulled out the
photo they saved for last: Tsarnaev making a crude gesture to the
security camera in his jail cell.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Photo / AP
“This is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – unconcerned, unrepentant and unchanged,” federal prosecutor Nadine Pellegrini told the jury.
people were killed and more than 260 wounded in the bombing, carried
out by Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, to punish the US for
its wars in Muslim countries. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology
police officer was shot to death days later as the brothers tried to get
Tsarnaev was convicted earlier this month of all 30 charges
against him during the trial’s guilt-or-innocence phase. His lawyers did
not give an opening statement Tuesday but will do so once the
prosecution has made its case.
The defence contends Tamerlan, 26, masterminded the bombing, and Dzhokhar, then 19, fell under his influence.
12-member jury must be unanimous for Tsarnaev to receive a death
sentence; otherwise, he will automatically get life behind bars.
jurors shed tears as the father of Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old
restaurant manager killed in the bombing, described how he called his
“Krystle was the light of my life,” William Campbell Jr. said, “every father’s dream.”
wiped away tears with a handkerchief, his voice growing hoarse as he
described how she “wasn’t really a girly-girl” and preferred baseball
over other activities.
Earlier Tuesday, prosecutors showed the jury a photo of a wounded Krystle writhing in agony on the ground, her mouth agape.
Reny told the jury she was an 18-year-old high school senior when she
went to watch her sister run her first marathon. She said the first
blast knocked her to the ground, and when she looked down, she could see
her legs were covered in blood, and a bone that had snapped in half was
“Muscle was everywhere. It was the most horrifying
image I could even imagine … and to see that on my own body was
terrifying,” she said, breaking down in tears. Doctors managed to save
Slouching in his seat at the defence table as usual,
Tsarnaev stared straight ahead and showed no reaction during the
proceedings. He did not appear to look at any of the witnesses.
Prosecutors have argued that Tsarnaev was a full partner with his brother and deserves the ultimate punishment.
destiny was determined by him, and he was destined and determined to be
America’s worst nightmare,” Pellegrini said. She described the killings
as “unbearable, indescribable, inexcusable and senseless.”
enlarged photographs of the victims behind her in the courtroom, the
prosecutor told the jury: “They were all beautiful, and they’re all now
“You know how they died. Now you need to know how they
lived,” she said. “You need to know and to understand why their lives
In a dramatic finish to her opening statement,
Pellegrini placed between the victims’ photographs the picture of
Tsarnaev extending his middle finger. The security-camera image was
taken three months after Tsarnaev’s arrest.
“He had one more message to send,” the prosecutor said.
photo was not immediately released to the media because the prosecution
has yet to authenticate it in court and enter it into evidence.
About a dozen people protesting against the death penalty demonstrated outside the federal courthouse Tuesday morning.
this week, the parents of the youngest of those killed, 8-year-old
Martin Richard, urged prosecutors in a front-page letter in The Boston
Globe to take the death penalty off the table.