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June 26, 2015

Judge Imposes Death Sentence for Boston Marathon Bomber

A federal judge in Boston formally sentenced Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev on June 24, for his role in using weapons of mass destruction at the 2013 Boston Marathon. U.S. District Judge George A. O’Toole of the District of Massachusetts imposed a sentence of death and multiple consecutive life sentences.

U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz of the District of Massachusetts, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Vincent B. Lisi of the FBI’s Boston Division, Commissioner William B. Evans of the Boston Police Department, Colonel Timothy P. Alben of the Massachusetts State Police, Special Agent in Charge Daniel J. Kumor of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’s Boston Field Division and Deputy Special Agent in Charge Michael Shea of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) in Boston made the announcement.

In May 2014, a federal jury in Boston recommended that Tsarnaev be sentenced to death. The counts on which the jury recommended a death sentence all related to the pressure cooker bomb Tsarnaev planted and detonated in front of the Forum restaurant, killing Lingzi Lu and Martin Richard. The same jury convicted Tsarnaev on all 30 counts of the indictment on April 8, 2015.

Tsarnaev, 21, a U.S. citizen formerly residing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was convicted of use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and conspiracy; bombing of a place of public use resulting in death and conspiracy; malicious destruction of property resulting in death and conspiracy; use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence; use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence causing death; carjacking resulting in serious bodily injury; interference with commerce by threats or violence; and aiding and abetting.

Beginning no later than February 2013, Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, conspired to detonate improvised explosive devices (IEDs), bomb places of public use and destroy property. On April 15, 2013, during the 117th running of the Boston Marathon, the brothers placed two pressure cooker bombs filled with shrapnel among the crowds of spectators on Boylston Street and then detonated the bombs seconds apart, killing three people, maiming 17 and injuring hundreds more. The brothers fled the scene in the chaos of the destruction. Three days later, on April 18, Tsarnaev and his brother, armed with five IEDs and a Ruger semiautomatic pistol that Tsarnaev had borrowed from a friend, drove to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) campus where they shot and killed MIT Police Officer Sean Collier and attempted to steal his service weapon. Approximately 20 minutes later, they carjacked a Mercedes SUV, kidnapped the driver and forced him to drive to a gas station, and robbed him of $800 along the way. After the driver managed to escape, the brothers drove to Laurel Street and Dexter Avenue in Watertown, Massachusetts, where they exploded additional IEDs and engaged in a firefight with Watertown police officers. During the stand-off, Tsarnaev drove the carjacked vehicle at three officers, attempting to kill them and ran over his brother as he escaped. Tsarnaev hid in a winterized boat in a backyard in Watertown until his apprehension and arrest the following night. His brother died from injuries sustained at the scene.

This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Boston Division, Boston Police Department, Massachusetts State Police, Department of Justice’s National Security Division and member agencies of the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force, including the ATF, HSI, U.S. Marshals Service, Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority and others. In addition, the Watertown Police Department; the Cambridge, Massachusetts, Police Department; the MIT Police Department; the Boston Fire Department; the National Guard and police, fire and emergency responders from across Massachusetts and New England played critical roles in the investigation and response.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Weinreb, Aloke Chakravarty and Nadine Pellegrini of the District of Massachusetts’s Anti-Terrorism and National Security Unit, and Trial Attorney Steve Mellin of the Justice Department’s Capital Case Section. Vital assistance was also provided by attorneys from the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section and the Criminal Division’s Capital Case Section.

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