Now that a jury has convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar
Tsarnaev on all charges, even more is at stake in the next phase of the
federal trial: The same 12 people must decide whether the 21-year-old
lives or dies.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Photo / AP
He did it. We all knew he did it. The prosecution knew it. The
defence, the jury, the judge. Everyone apart from the wacko
conspiracists knew that on a Monday afternoon, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev walked
through Boston and exploded a terrible bomb.
There was so much
video and so many photos to consider and process in those first few
days. Body-armoured cops with urban tanks and assault rifles guarded
every corner and leered at every foreign journalist’s ID.
the trial it was easy to forget that for three days after the
explosions, we didn’t know who to blame. You could look at those clean
surveillance pictures, the two brothers with their baseball caps
strolling through the crowd, and forget that for an uncomfortable period
everyone in Boston was a suspect.
You could look at the pictures
of the blasts, the thump of the explosions, the clean flashes and the
dust, and still not appreciate the sheer violence and trauma, tearing
and screaming and blood. Ball bearings and nails: no wonder so many
people lost legs.
The verdicts were a foregone conclusion; not enough even to
lead the news in a country obsessed with terror and bombs. The public,
you expect, is hanging out for the second act.
I returned to
Boston for the anniversary marathon, for which the crowds were joyous
and proud. Spiteful? Not outwardly, but when you asked some people they
didn’t hesitate to tell you what they hoped would happen next.
hard to be executed under federal law. The jury that convicted Tsarnaev
will decide now if he lives 60 years in a cell or is strapped to a
gurney and put to death like a household pet with arthritic legs. Both
options feel medieval and there are no others.
Legally, the judge can overrule a jury’s decision. No judge in America ever has.
Punishment and justice are personal calls. Limbless survivors and the families of the dead are divided.
We all knew he did it but no one knows for sure if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will die.