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Life or Death? The Choices Facing Tsarnaev's Jury

The jury considering Tsarnaev's fate will decide any day now whether he will be executed or not. They can arrive at their decision in a number of ways.
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Any day now, a jury in Boston will deliver a verdict that will determine whether convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison.

They can arrive at their decision in a number of ways.

Tsarnaev was convicted last month of 30 criminal counts covering the April 15, 2013 attack that killed 3 and injured 260 and the manhunt that ensured, in which an MIT police officer was shot to death, a driver was carjacked and Tsarnaev and his co-conspirator older brother got into a firefight with police.

Of those counts, 17 carry the death penalty. A vote for death on any of those 17 counts will put him on a list for lethal injection.

For each count, jurors must weigh an array of aggravating factors, such as “the especially heinous, cruel, and depraved” nature of the crimes, and mitigating factors, such as the older brother's influence over Tsarnaev.

But any vote to impose the death penalty must be unanimous. So all it takes is one juror to hold out on each of those 17 counts to spare him. If that happens, Tsarnaev will be sentenced to life behind bars.

"The choice is yours and yours alone to make," Judge George O'Toole told the jury Wednesday.

The jury will deliver the verdict, but the formal sentencing must be done by O'Toole. Sentencing day could come months after the verdict, and will include statements from victims, and Tsarnaev himself.


—Tom Winter, Andy Thibault and Jon Schuppe