"We know all too well that no verdict can heal the souls of those who lost loved ones, nor the minds and bodies of those who suffered life-changing injuries from this cowardly attack" said U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch after the release of the verdict. "But the ultimate penalty is a fitting punishment for this horrific crime, and we hope that the completion of this prosecution will bring some measure of closure to the victims and their families.”
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's lawyer, Judy Clarke, admitted from the beginning of the trial that he participated in the bombings — bluntly telling jurors in her opening statement, "It was him." The defense sought to save his life by pinning most of the blame on his brother.
Prosecutors portrayed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an equal partner in the attack and so heartless he placed a bomb behind children, killing an 8-year-old boy. During the trial, the jury saw gruesome, sometimes graphic videos of the explosions and their bloody aftermath and heard from some of the 18 people who lost limbs in the bombing as well as from friends and family of the four people killed by the Tsarnaevs.
The 12-member federal jury had to be unanimous for Tsarnaev to get the death penalty. Otherwise, the former college student would have automatically received a sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole.
Tsarnaev did not take the stand at his trial, and he slouched in his seat through most of the case. In his only flash of emotion during the months-long case, he cried when his Russian aunt took the stand.
The only evidence of any remorse on his part in the two years since the attack came from the defense's final witness, Sister Helen Prejean, a Roman Catholic nun and staunch death penalty opponent made famous by the movie "Dead Man Walking."
She quoted Tsarnaev as saying of the bombing victims: "No one deserves to suffer like they did."
Tsarnaev's lawyers also called teachers, friends and Russian relatives who described him as a sweet and kind boy who cried during "The Lion King."
The defense argued that sparing his life and instead sending him to the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, would be a harsh punishment and would best allow the bombing victims to move on with their lives without having to read about years of death penalty appeals.
Tsarnaev's attorneys left the courthouse without commenting to reporters.
U.S. District Judge George O'Toole Jr. will formally impose the sentence at a later date during a hearing in which bombing victims will be allowed to speak. Tsarnaev will also be given the opportunity to address the court.
The Tsarnaevs — ethnic Chechens — lived in Kyrgyzstan and Dagestan before moving to the U.S. about a decade before the bombings. They settled in Cambridge, just outside Boston.
Al Jazeera and wire services