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Two years after the Boston Marathon bombings — and in the lull between the conviction of bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his sentencing — spectators at the 119th running of the marathon on Monday said they were were torn over whether or not Tsarnaev should receive the death penalty.
Tsarnaev, 21, was convicted earlier this month for his role in killing three people and injuring 260 in the April 15, 2013 bombings. A jury found Tsarnaev guilty on all 30 criminal counts, but his ultimate fate has not yet been decided.
"I’m sure there are a lot of people who want to see him receive the death penalty," Andrew Hollingsworth told NBC News from the sideline of the race Monday. "But it’s more about the victims and their families than anyone else."
Spectator Gina Matos said that deciding whether or not Tsarnaev should receive the death penalty has been hard to think about, “I felt like he was so young and very manipulated in the situation," she said. "I think he needs to repent and pay for what he did, you can’t go out and hurt people just because somebody tells you to do it."
The family of Martin Richard, the youngest victim of the bombings, wrote in an open letter published in the Boston Globe last week that the death penalty for Tsarnaev would only extend their pain and grief.
The Richard family said that their wish is to have Tsarnaev spend the rest of his life in prison and for him to be out of the media spotlight for good.
The family’s plea was heard loud and clear by some marathon spectators, "I think what the families are trying to do to keep him out of the spotlight is important," spectator Kate O'Connell said. "I think it’s a different kind of justice to get him out of the spotlight and put him away."
Bob Keenan agreed that he would like to see Tsarnaev spend his life in prison, but is not so sure that will happen. "I do think he’s going to get the death penalty," Keenan said. "Either way is okay with me."
Steven Frey was not on the fence. "He [Tsarnaev] is guilty of crimes that are beyond belief," Frey said. "Unfortunately some people may have to give up their life because they made some very bad decisions."
Frey hopes Tsarnaev will receive the death penalty, "I have no second thoughts about that."
The penalty phase of the federal trial will begin April 21.