Tsarnaev admits guilt, apologizes and is sentenced to death UPDATED BELOW

Judge George O’Toole sentenced Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death today for his role in the Boston Marathon Bombing case. The sentence was not in doubt because he was obligated to formally sentence him to death, given the jury’s death verdict.

Victims who survived and family members of victims who died came to court today to speak at sentencing. Here is a sample of what they said,

Johanna Hantel:

“If have to crawl I am going to run every year. I will not let this sickening act take that away from me.”

Unknown Person:

“I came to the first two days of the trial…the defendant, he sat there blank. I realized, I’m alive, and he’s already dead.”

Krystle Campbell’s mother:

“The choices you made were despicable.”

Officer Sean Collier’s sister:

“I do not know the defendant, nor do I care to know him. He is a coward and a liar. He ran his own brother over with a car. He had no issues shooting mine in the head . . . he spit in the face of the American dream.”

Bill and Denise Richard:

“He chose hate. He chose destruction. He chose death . . . We choose love. We choose kindness. We choose peace. This is what makes us different than him. On the day he meets his maker, may he understand what he has done and may justice and peace be found.”

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev spoke for the first time during the trial.*

“Thank you, your honor….I would like to begin in the name of Allah . . . This is the blessed month of Ramadan, the month of mercy . . . the month to ask forgiveness. I ask forgiveness of Allah & to his creation . . . In trial more of victims given names and faces. All those on witness stand, I was listening. I was listening, I heard strength, patience, dignity. Id like to thank the jury. I would like to apologize to the victims and the survivors. I am sorry for the lives I have taken and the suffering I caused and the damage I’ve done. I have done irreparable damage. I ask Allah for mercy for me and for my brother . . . I pray to Allah to bestow his mercy on you . . . I pray for your relief, for your healing. For your well-being, for your health. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the world. Thank you.”

*I composed his statement from reviewing hundreds of tweets from the courtroom as they were posted on twitter.

UPDATE: We now have a court transcript of his statement from the Boston Globe:

Thank you, your Honor, for giving me an opportunity to speak. I would like to begin in the name of Allah, the exalted and glorious, the most gracious, the most merciful, “Allah” among the most beautiful names. Any act that does not begin in the name of God is separate from goodness.

This is the blessed month of Ramadan, and it is the month of mercy from Allah to his creation, a month to ask forgiveness of Allah and of his creation, a month to express gratitude to Allah and to his creation. It’s the month of reconciliation, a month of patience, a month during which hearts change. Indeed, a month of many blessings.

The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said if you have not thanked the people, you have not thanked God. So I would like to first thank my attorneys, those who sit at this table, the table behind me, and many more behind the scenes. They have done much good for me, for my family. They made my life the last two years very easy. I cherish their company. They’re lovely companions. I thank you.

I would like to thank those who took time out of their daily lives to come and testify on my behalf despite the pressure. I’d like to thank the jury for their service, and the Court. The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said that if you do not — if you are not merciful to Allah’s creation, Allah will not be merciful to you, so I’d like to now apologize to the victims, to the survivors.

Immediately after the bombing, which I am guilty of — if there’s any lingering doubt about that, let there be no more. I did do it along with my brother — I learned of some of the victims. I learned their names, their faces, their age. And throughout this trial more of those victims were given names, more of those victims had faces, and they had burdened souls.

Now, all those who got up on that witness stand and that podium related to us — to me — I was listening — the suffering that was and the hardship that still is, with strength and with patience and with dignity. Now, Allah says in the Qur’an that no soul is burdened with more than it can bear, and you told us just how unbearable it was, how horrendous it was, this thing I put you through. And I know that you kept that much. I know that there isn’t enough time in the day for you to have related to us everything. I also wish that far more people had a chance to get up there, but I took them from you.

Now, I am sorry for the lives that I’ve taken, for the suffering that I’ve caused you, for the damage that I’ve done. Irreparable damage.

Now, I am a Muslim. My religion is Islam. The God I worship, besides whom there is no other God, is Allah. And I prayed for Allah to bestow his mercy upon the deceased, those affected in the bombing and their families. Allah says in the Qur’an that with every hardship there is relief. I pray for your relief, for your healing, for your well-being, for your strength.

I ask Allah to have mercy upon me and my brother and my family. I ask Allah to bestow his mercy upon those present here today. And Allah knows best those deserving of his mercy. And I ask Allah to have mercy upon the ummah of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. Amin. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

Thank you.

9 Responses to Tsarnaev admits guilt, apologizes and is sentenced to death UPDATED BELOW

  1. gblock says:

    He seems to rely very heavily on God (Allah) and religion in composing this speech. Although I believe that he was listening and is beginning to understand about the death and suffering that he caused, I’m not sure whether he is truly sorry or whether his apology was based more on doing what God and religion said he should do.

  2. First, thank you for your reporting and advocacy against the death penalty throughout the trial. I apologize, in a way, for focusing mainly on legal issues when there are so many human sides to what happened in court today. Two main points stand out to me.

    First, if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was ready to make his apology to Judge O’Toole and the victims today, I wonder why he didn’t apologize in similar words to the jury during the penalty trial. Of course, part of that question would involve whether his attorneys sought his right to allocute before the jury without cross-examination under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 32. If so, it should be an issue preserved for the appeal to the First Circuit, which to my best knowledge has not yet addressed the issue (as a matter of interpretating Rule 32, or an Eighth Amendment requirement).

    Also, recalling one of your trial stories, and assuming that Judge O’Toole denied the right to allocute to the jury, I’m asking if Dzokhar could have written a letter expressing his remorse that his attorneys would then have read to the jury, maybe during the session where Sister Helen Prejean testified as to her experience of his remorse.

    Secondly, Judge O’Toole’s statement that Tsarnaev would not be remembered for his love or his relationships with his family and friends, but only for his crimes, seemed to me premature: he might yet, even in prison, atone for his crimes, however partially, and make positive contributions to society during his LWOP sentence. Might the Judge’s words reflect a climate in which the jury was unable objectively to weigh mitigation and really make an individualized decision on penalty?

    Again, thank you for your response to this process, now moving into the appellate state, in which you have consistently denounced both unspeakable crimes of terror and murder, and the murderous nature of the death penalty.

    • Malisha says:

      Death should not be a punishment at all. Ever. People die who do not deserve punishment. Some people die young and if they realize they are going to die young, they often feel as if they have been singled out for terrible punishment and this adds to their pain because they can incorporate this terrible idea and conclude that they were somehow very bad people, to have deserved this. It is cruel and inhuman to even suggest that death is a punishment, since it is beyond our control and beyond our deserving or not deserving. Some of the worst people in the world have lived long lives; some of the best have died young. The two circumstances should never be linked; only control freaks and psychopaths enjoy linking them.

    • Thanks, Margo.

      FYI: I just updated the article with a court reporter’s transcript of Jahar’s statement.

      I’m thinking the defense wanted Jahar to present this statement in allocution to the jury without cross before they began their deliberations. I’m also thinking the prosecution objected because they wanted to cross examine him and Judge O’Toole agreed. Therefore, they waited until after the verdict making sure they preserved the issue for appeal. I think it’s a good issue that has a good chance to survive a harmless error standard of review.

      BTW, please check your email in a few minutes.

  3. Malisha says:

    It’s not the run-of-the-mill remorse speech.

    • concernedczen says:

      Nope it wasn’t. His statement “I was listening” seems heartfelt and true. I’m sad for his victims, for their families and for him and his family.

  4. GB says:

    The death sentence is wrong for many reasons in this case – it helps perpetuate and amplify the cycle of violence, it fails to demonstrate moral superiority.

  5. Such a shame he didn’t realize in advance of his crimes the deep suffering it would cause decent people is. May the universe have compassion and mercy upon him and may he work toward enlightenment and know peace.

    The folk hero of Tibet is a real-life man who killed 34 of his family members through witchcraft. He repented, reached enlightment in his lifetime through hard work and meditation in retreat, and became a respected Dharma teacher.

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