Jane Flavell Collins / Reuters

Boston marathon bomber apologizes to victims in court

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, spoke before a federal judge formally sentenced him to death for the 2013 attacks

Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev apologized at a court hearing on Wednesday before a judge formally sentence him to death for the deadly 2013 attack that killed three people and injured 264.

"I am sorry for the lives I have taken, for the suffering that I have caused you, for the damage I have done, irreparable damage," the 21-year-old ethnic Chechen told a federal court. It was the first time Tsarnaev, who did not speak in his own defense at trial, had addressed the court.

"In case there is any doubt, I am guilty of this attack, along with my brother," Tsarnaev said, standing at the defense table.

Four days after the bombing, Tamerlan Tsarnaev died from blunt trauma and gunshot wounds after Dzhokhar dragged his body under a car while fleeing a gunfight with police.

On Wednesday, Tsarnaev paused several times, looking as if he was trying to remain composed. He stood and faced judge George O'Toole Jr. while speaking, but spoke of the victims.

He says he listened to everyone who spoke on the witness stand and he noted the strength, patience and dignity of the survivors.

During the trial, federal prosecutors described the ethnic Chechen brothers as adherents of Al-Qaeda's ideology who wanted to "punish America" for its wars in Muslim countries with the attack on the world-renowned race.

Tsarnaev was found guilty of killing three people and injuring 264 in the April 15, 2013 marathon, as well as fatally shooting a police officer three days later. Martin Richard, 8, Chinese exchange student Lingzi Lu, 26, and restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, 29 were killed in the bombings. Seventeen others lost limbs in the attack and have been forced to wear prosthetic limbs or use wheelcharis or crutches. 

Twenty-four survivors and family members of the attack also gave so-called victim impact statements at the sentencing in federal court prior to Tsarnaev's comments. 

Rebekah Gregory, a Texas woman who lost a leg in the bombing, defiantly told Tsarnaev she is not his victim.

"While your intention was to destroy America, what you have really accomplished is actually quite the opposite – you've unified us," she said, staring directly at Tsarnaev as he looked down.

"We are Boston strong, we are America strong, and choosing to mess with us was a terrible idea,” she said. “So how's that for your victim impact statement?"

Krystle Campbell's mother, Patricia, called Tsarnaev's actions "despicable."

"You went down the wrong road," Campbell said. "I know life is hard, but the choices you made were despicable and what you did to my daughter was disgusting."

Judge O'Toole Jr. said no one will remember that Tsarnaev's teachers or friends were fond of him. What they will remember is that he "murdered and maimed innocent people" and "did it willfully and intentionally." 

Al Jazeera and wire services

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