Tsarnaev Speaks as Judge Imposes Death Penalty

     BOSTON (CN) – Dzhokhar Tsarnaev praised Allah and begged forgiveness for his crimes as a federal judge formally sentenced him to death Wednesday for the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
     “I would like to apologize to the victims and survivors,” Tsarnaev, who turns 22 next month, told the court.
     Hesitating in his first public about the attacks, the former University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, student told the court that the emotional two-month trial took its toll on him.
     “Immediately after the bombing – which I am guilty of, I did do it – I learned of some of the victims – I learned their names, their faces, their age,” Tsarnaev said. “Throughout this trial, the more those victims were given names, more of those victims were given faces.”
     It has been two months since Tsarnaev was convicted of all 30 counts he faced in relation to the attacks he carried out with his brother Tamerlan on the April 15, 2013, marathon.
     The bombings left three dead and more than 260 injured, but the carnage continued in the days after the marathon with the murder of a police officer and the death of Tamerlan.
     A jury sentenced Tsarnaev to death, plus 19 life sentences, last month.
     As U.S. District Judge George O’Toole formalized the decree today, he noted that the execution will likely take place in Terra Haute, Ind., as Massachusetts law does not allow capital punishment.
     “This was an extraordinary case,” said O’Toole. “Those who sat through it to the end saw things they will never forget, both good and bad. We will never forget the victims of these crimes and their stories.”
     Despite numerous character witnesses who described Tsarnaev as intelligent and friendly, the impression made by his crimes is all that will remain of him, the judge added.
     “What will be remembered is that you murdered and maimed innocent people,” O’Toole said. “You did it on purpose. You tried to justify it to yourself by attempting to redefine what it is to be innocent. It was a monstrous self-deception.”
     Killed in the bombings were Martin Richard, 8; restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, 29; and graduate student Lingzi Lu, 23. The 27-year-old police officer for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology slain while the Tsarnaevs attempted to evade apprehension was named Sean Collier.
     Pairing his unruly brown curls with a suit, Tsarnaev thanked the jury and all of the witnesses who spoke on his behalf, as well as those who spoke out against him.
     “You told us just how unbearable it was, this thing I put you through,” Tsarnaev said. “I also wish that more people had a chance to get up there. I am sorry for the lives that I’ve taken, for the suffering I’ve caused you and the damage that I’ve done.”
     Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen whose family immigrated to the United States as refugees from Kyrgystan, also told the court about his faith.
     “I am Muslim,” he said. “My religion is Islam. The god I worship is Allah. I prayed to Allah to bestow his mercy on the deceased who were affected in the bombing. I prayed for your relief and your healing, for your well-being and your strength. I ask Allah to have mercy on me, my brother and my family. I ask Allah to bestow mercy on those here today.”
     Victims of the bombing had an opportunity to address the court Wednesday as well.
     “We are Boston Strong and choosing to mess with us was a terrible idea,” said Rebekah Gregory, who was injured in the blast.
     “I didn’t care much about Tsarnaev, whether he died in prison or by lethal injection, as long as he can’t hurt anyone else,” added Heather Abbott, who lost a leg in the bombing.

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