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Boston Bombing Trial: Penalty Phase to Begin on April 21, Judge Orders

The penalty phase against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev begins April 21 following his conviction this week on all 30 criminal counts in the marathon bombing.
/ Source: NBC News

The penalty phase in the federal trial of convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will begin on April 21, a judge ordered Friday, allowing jurors to determine whether he should live or die.

The jury has been asked to come to court next week — on April 14 — to receive a brief set of instructions. This year's Boston Marathon will be held on April 20.

"The defendant has requested that the penalty phase commence in approximately two weeks so as to, among other things, allow the defendant additional time to resolve outstanding logistical issues with a number of potential witnesses. It is not uncommon for there to be a brief recess between phases in a capital case," Judge George O'Toole said in the order.

Tsarnaev, 21, was convicted for his role in the April 15, 2013, twin bombings that killed three people and injured 260 others at the Boston Marathon — the worst terror attacks on American soil since 9/11. A jury found him guilty Wednesday on all 30 criminal counts.

Seventeen of the 30 counts carry the possibility of the death penalty.

Tsarnaev was widely expected to be found guilty, and the larger question has been whether he will be sentenced to death. His defense team tried to pin the terror plot on older brother Tamerlan, who was killed in a police shootout following the bombing, as the mastermind of the attack.


— Pete Williams