Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Guilty, Faces Death Penalty in Boston Marathon Bombing

April 8, 2015 Updated: April 8, 2015

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty by a jury for the role he played in the Boston Marathon bombing terrorist attack on April 15, 2013.

A jury handed down its decision on Wednesday. He was convicted of plotting to use a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death—which carries the possibility of the death penalty—and 29 related charges. He was found guilty of killing Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard, Lingzi Lu, and Sean Collier, the jury said.

“Today’s verdict will never replace the lives that were lost and so dramatically changed, but it is a relief, and one step closer to closure,” said Boston bombing victim Jeffrey Bauman, who lost both his legs in the terrorist attack.

Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in a police shootout on April 19, 2013, were accused of planting two pressure-cooker bombs near the finish line at the Boston Marathon. Three people were killed in the blasts and more than 260 were injured.

The verdicts were read and now the trial will head to sentencing phase. The verdict was reached Wednesday afternoon after a little over 12 hours of deliberations over two days.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers admitted he participated in the bombings, but said his now-dead older brother was the driving force behind the 2013 deadly attack.

The jury was dismissed for the week. They will reconvene to deliberate on whether Tsarnaev, 21, should be sentenced to death. 

Prosecutors said that he deserves the death penalty, as he carried out the crimes in a “heinous, cruel, and depraved manner.” They argued that he was a self-radicalized Muslim who wanted to carry out an attack in the United States.

The Massachusetts State Police issued a statement following his conviction, saying: “The collective thoughts of the entire Massachusetts State Police are with the victims, survivors, and families of those maimed by these cowardly acts of terrorism. In today’s verdict, we hope to turn another page in the recovery and healing of our community. We are hopeful that in justice, those that have been injured may find some sense of peace.” 

Earlier this week, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said Tsarnaev deserves to spend the rest of his life in jail. And even though Massachusetts doesn’t have capital punishment, Tsarnaev faces a possible federal death penalty.

Healey said she is opposed to capital punishment, but believes it was appropriate to charge Tsarnaev with federal crimes, including use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death.

Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley and fellow Massachusetts Roman Catholic bishops said Monday it would be against the church’s teaching to apply the death penalty to Tsarnaev.

“The defendant in this case has been neutralized and will never again have the ability to cause harm,” the bishops said in a statement, adding “society can do better than the death penalty.”

“The Boston Marathon Bombing trial is a painful reminder of the harm that impacts many people even beyond those who are killed or maimed by violent criminal acts,” the bishops said. They said they “feel it is fitting” to reiterate the church’s position as Tsarnaev’s trial brings attention to capital punishment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.