Convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Wednesday apologized for his role in the 2013 attack that killed three people and wounded more than 260.
Though he sat stone-faced during his trial, he was given the option to address the court at the formal sentencing, which legal experts did not expect him to take up the offer because the judge was required to impose the jury’s death sentence.
“If you have not thanked the people you have not thanked God.” He addresses his attorneys and thanks them, saying, “Made my life the last two years easy. I cherish their companionship.” He also thanked those who testified for him and the jury, then he went on to apologizing to the victims.
“I would like to apologize to the victims and the survivors.” He paused for a moment, then continued, never turning to face his victims.
“Immediately after the bombing that I am guilty of, I learned of some of the victims, their names, their faces, their age.
I am sorry for the lives I have taken… for the suffering I have caused and the terrible damage I have done, irreparable damage.
I am Muslim. My religion is Islam. I pray to Allah, to bestow his mercy on those affected in the bombing and their families… I pray for your healing… If there is any lingering doubt… I did it along with my brother… I ask Allah to have mercy on me my brother and my family.”
After Tsarnaev spoke, U.S. District Judge George O’Toole quoted Shakespeare’s observation “The evil that men do lives after them” and told Tsarnaev that no one will remember that his teachers were fond of him, that his friends found him fun to be with or that he showed compassion to disabled people.
“What will be remembered is that you murdered and maimed innocent people, and that you did it willfully and intentionally. You did it on purpose,” O’Toole said.
“I sentence you to the penalty of death by execution,” he said.
Tsarnaev looked down and rubbed his hands together as the judge pronounced his fate.
His apology rang hollow to victims and loved ones of those he helped kill.
Many of the survivors and victims’ families and friends made direct remarks to Tsarnaev, often in voices shaking with emotion, for their victim impact statements. However, some chose not to.
Rebekah Gregory, a double amputee, stood before Tsarnaev defiant. To deliver a victim impact statement, “I’d have to be someone’s victim. And I’m definitely not yours,” she said.
At a press conference outside the courthouse where he was sentenced to death, Fox News reports that Lynn Julian, a bombing survivor, said, “I regret having ever wanted to hear him speak because what he said showed no remorse, no regret and no empathy for what he’s done to our lives.”
Julian said the bomber’s references to Allah were “the last thing we wanted to hear.”
She added that she would have preferred a sincere apology.
“A simple, believable apology would have been great,” she said. “There was nothing simple about what he said and there was nothing sincere.”
Scott Weisberg, an Alabama physician who suffered a head injury and hearing loss, said regarding Tsarnaev’s apology, “It really does not change anything for me, because what he took from me I’m never going to be able to regain.”
“I don’t think it was genuine,” he said, pointing out that he is still required to adjust to his new life that includes hearing aids and bouts with PTSD.
Henry Borgard, another bombing survivor, said, “I have forgiven him. I have come to a place of peace and I genuinely hope that he does as well. And for me hear him say that he’s sorry; that is enough for me.”
At 21, Tsarnaev now becomes the youngest person on death row in the United States. Following the hearing, he will be taken from custody in Massachusetts to a federal prison in Indiana. He probably faces over a decade of appeals before his execution could take place.