Lane Turner / The Boston Globe / Getty Images

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev found guilty of all 30 counts in Boston Marathon bombing

The same jury will decide whether to sentence him to death or to life in prison without possibility of parole

A federal jury has found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty on all 30 counts against him, including the conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction in the deadly 2013 bombing at the Boston Marathon. After a second round of witness testimony, the jury will be tasked with deciding whether Tsarnaev, 21, should receive the death penalty or life in prison without parole. 

Tsarnaev folded his arms, fidgeted and looked down at the defense table as he listened to one guilty verdict after another on the counts against him, including conspiracy and use of a weapon of mass destruction; 17 of those counts are punishable by death.

The two pressure cookers — packed with explosives, nails, BBs and metal shards — that exploded near the marathon's finish line on April 15, 2013, killed three spectators and wounded more than 260 other people, turning the traditionally celebratory home stretch of the world-famous race into a scene of carnage and putting the city on edge for days.

The courtroom was packed with survivors of the attack; the parents of 8-year-old Martin Richard, the youngest fatality; and law enforcement officials, including former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis. Jurors spent over 11 hours in two days of deliberations after 16 days of testimony. 

Tsarnaev was found responsible not only for the three spectators’ deaths but also for that of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer who was shot days later during the brothers’ getaway attempt.

The guilty verdicts were widely expected, given his lawyer Judy Clarke’s startling admission during opening statements that Tsarnaev took part in the bombing, saying “it was him.” But she also argued that his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, masterminded the attack and enlisted his then-19-year-old brother to help.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's lawyers barely cross-examined the government's witnesses and called just four people to the stand over less than two days, all in an effort to portray Tamerlan Tsarnaev as the guiding force in the plot.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died April 19, 2013, after being shot by police and run over and dragged by a stolen car that his brother was driving.

“If not for Tamerlan, it would not have happened,” Clarke told the jury during closing arguments.

“Sometimes if you handle the guilt phase properly with the jury and accept the responsibility for the act … the jury will come around to your theory at the penalty phase that this person should be spared,” said Al Jazeera legal contributor and lawyer Jami Floyd. “You lose legitimacy in the eyes of a jury if you spend weeks fighting for your client’s innocence and they don’t buy it and now you’re going to beg them for his life.” 

Prosecutors portrayed the brothers — ethnic Chechens who moved to the U.S. from Russia more than a decade ago — as full partners in a plan to punish the U.S. for its wars in Muslim countries. Jihadist writings, lectures and videos were found on both their computers, though the defense argued that Tamerlan Tsarnaev downloaded the material and sent it to his brother.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's lawyers tried repeatedly to get the trial moved out of Boston because of the heavy publicity and the widespread trauma. Opposition to capital punishment is strong in Massachusetts, which abolished its death penalty in 1984, but he is eligible for the death penalty because the case is a federal one.

During the penalty phase, which could begin as early as Monday, Tsarnaev's lawyers will present mitigating evidence they hope will save his life. That could include evidence about his family, his relationship with his brother and his childhood in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan and later in the volatile Dagestan region of Russia.

Prosecutors will present aggravating factors in support of the death penalty, including the killing of a child and the targeting of the marathon because of the potential for maximum bloodshed.

Al Jazeera and wire services 

Related News

Find Al Jazeera America on your TV

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter


Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter