The formal sentencing hearing for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Wednesday promised to be high on emotion—with impact statements from victims and survivors—but short on drama. The jury had already sentenced Tsarnaev to death on six of the 30 counts on May 15.
But then Tsarnaev himself spoke. He did not testify during his trial and he had not spoken publicly since he was arrested after a four-day manhunt that left him hiding in a boat. He’d spent much of the trial slouched and looking down, and rarely appeared remorseful. On Wednesday he apologized in a brief statement.
“I would like to now apologize to the victims and to the survivors,” Tsarnaev said. “I am sorry for the lives I have taken, for the suffering I have caused, and for the terrible damage I have done. I pray to Allah to bestow his mercy on those affected in the bombing and their families. I pray for your healing.”
As NBC News reported, Tsarnaev also “spoke of ‘the strength, the patience, the dignity’ of victims of the blasts who had testified earlier.”
“I am a Muslim. My religion is Islam. I pray to Allah to show his mercy to the deceased in this bombing,” he said.
Tsarnaev’s brief statement followed emotional statements from survivors. The court heard from Bill Richard (the father of 8-year-old victim Martin Richard), Patricia Campell (mother of victim Krystle Campbell), Jennifer Rogers (the sister of slain MIT police officer Sean Collier), and many survivors.
“When I’m angry I am furious, when I’m sad it is debilitating,” said Jennifer Rogers. “I will never have a complete and happy family again. I do not know the defendant nor do I care to know him. He is a coward and a liar.”
The case will now likely move to the appeals process. It is extremely rare for the federal death penalty to be carried out. The most recent federal executions were those of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and drug trafficker and convicted murder Juan Raul Garza, both in 2001.