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Boston Bombing Trial: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Guilty on All Counts; Faces Death

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted in the Boston Marathon bombings.. A second trial phase will determine whether he gets the death penalty.
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/ Source: NBC News

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been convicted for his role in the April 15, 2013, bombings of the Boston Marathon, ending the first phase of a terror trial that will now continue with a penalty phase to determine whether he will be executed.

A jury of seven women and five men who had deliberated for two days delivered guilty verdicts Wednesday in all 30 criminal counts against Tsarnaev, who was 19 when twin blasts rocked the race's finish line. Three people died and 260 were injured in the worst terror attacks on American soil since 9/11.

The jury could begin hearing arguments in the penalty phase early next week.

As the verdict was being read out, Tsarnaev appeared to have no emotion. After the last "guilty," he sat with his defense lawyers, looking straight ahead, resting his chin on his hands. William Richard, the father of 8-year-old bombing victim Martin Richard, put his arm around his wife as they listened from the gallery.

Richard's family thanked the investigators and prosecutors in a statement but said it would have no comment on the verdict.

The verdicts arrived a week before the bombing's second anniversary, a coincidence that loomed over plans to mark the event and the city's preparation for the 119th Boston Marathon, to be held April 20.

Mayor Martin Walsh said he was "thankful" that the first phase of the trial had ended and that he wanted the penalty phase to proceed swiftly. "I hope today's verdict provides a small amount of closure for the survivors, families, and all impacted by the violent and tragic events surrounding the 2013 Boston Marathon," Walsh said in a statement.

Jeffrey Bauman, who lost two legs in the bombing and testified against Tsarnaev, called the verdict "a relief, and one step closer to closure."

Tsarnaev, now 21, was widely expected to be found guilty, since his defense lawyers admitted from the trial's outset that he took part in the attack. Their strategy was to save him from execution by painting him as a dupe of his radicalized older brother.

Lead defense lawyer Judy Clarke left the federal courthouse without making any comment.

The trial began March 4 and included weeks of graphic testimony that dragged the city through painful memories of the bombings and the four-day manhunt that followed. While on the run, authorities said, Tsarnaev and his brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, killed an MIT police officer, carjacked a Mercedes SUV and got into a shootout with police in suburban Watertown, Massachusetts. Tamerlan was killed, and Dzhokhar escaped in the SUV, abandoning it to take refuge in a boat parked behind a nearby house. He was arrested a few hours later.

Prosecutors called dozens of witnesses in an attempt to document Tsarnaev's gradual radicalization into a full blown jihadist, and his planting of one of two pressure cooker bombs that exploded on Boylston Street. They argued that he was an equal partner with his brother in the attack and the mayhem that followed.

Among the 30 criminal counts Tsarnaev faced was the murder of the three bombing fatalities — the little boy, Richard Martin, 8; Lingzi Lu, 23; and Krystle Campbell, 29 — and of the MIT officer, Sean Collier, 26, even though prosecutors couldn't prove which brother pulled the trigger.

The jury heard from Martin's father, and from friends and rescue workers who tended to Campbell and Lu. Other victims recalled losing limbs. Prosecutors played gruesome video footage of the scene, and shared photos of the injuries.

Tsarnaev remained silent and still through most of the trial, rarely showing any emotion. His lawyers called just four witnesses, all evidence technicians they hoped would bolster their argument that fingerprints, receipts and digital evidence showed Tamerlan was the mastermind, and Dzhokhar an impressionable teenager who bought into his brother's twisted vision.

Clarke asked the jury during the trial's first phase to "keep your minds open" to that notion. She'll expand on that in the penalty phase, which the jury will begin hearing soon.



— Tom Winter, Andy Thibault and Jon Schuppe
Image: Tsarnaev and his lawyer Judy Clarke as the verdict is announced on April 8, 2015.
Tsarnaev and his lawyer Judy Clarke as the verdict is announced on April 8, 2015.Art Lien