By DENISE LAVOIE
AP Legal Affairs Writer
BOSTON (AP) — As he planted a backpack containing a bomb near a group of children, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev made a coldblooded decision aimed at punishing America for its wars in Muslim countries, a federal prosecutor told the jury during closing arguments Monday at Tsarnaev’s death penalty trial.
“This was a cold, calculated terrorist act. This was intentional. It was bloodthirsty. It was to make a point,” Aloke Chakravarty said. “It was to tell America that `We will not be terrorized by you anymore. We will terrorize you.”‘
Defense attorney Judy Clarke countered by arguing, as she did at the trial’s outset, that Tsarnaev took part in the attack but did so under the malevolent influence of his now-dead older brother, Tamerlan. Clarke repeatedly referred to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — then 19 — as a “kid” and a “teenager.”
“If not for Tamerlan, it would not have happened,” Clarke said.
The jury is expected to begin deliberating Tuesday morning in the case against Tsarnaev, 21, almost two years after the twin bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killed three people and wounded more than 260. It was the nation’s deadliest terror attack since 9/11.
If Tsarnaev is convicted — and that is considered a near certainty, given his lawyer’s admission — the jury will then begin hearing evidence on whether he should get life in prison or a death sentence.
Prosecutors used their closing argument to remind the jury of the horror of that day, showing photographs and video of the carnage and chaos after the shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs exploded. In one video, jurors could hear the agonizing screams of Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant manager who bled to death on the sidewalk. Another woman and an 8-year-old boy were also killed.
Taking aim at the argument that Tsarnaev was led astray by his older brother, Chakravarty repeatedly referred to the Tsarnaevs as “a team” and “partners” in the attack.
“That day, they felt they were soldiers. They were the mujahedeen, and they were bringing their battle to Boston,” the prosecutor said.
As for the youngsters killed or maimed by the bomb that was in Dzhokhar’s backpack, Chakravarty said: “These children weren’t innocent to him. They were American. Of all the places that he could have placed the bomb, he placed it right there.”
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died four days after the bombings after he was shot by police and run over by Dzhokhar during a getaway attempt. Dzhokhar was captured hiding in a dry-docked boat.
At the end of his closing argument, Chakravarty displayed photos of those killed in the bombings and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer who was shot to death during the getaway attempt.
“They are no longer with us,” Chakravarty said. “This is the result of the defendant’s choice to be a terrorist, his choice to make a statement. These were choices that he was proud of.”
Clarke struck a conciliatory tone in her closing argument, admitting the attack brought “tragedy, suffering and grief in dimensions that none of us could imagine were possible.”
But in a strategy clearly aimed at saving Tsarnaev from the death penalty, Clarke said Tamerlan played a much more prominent role, buying bomb components, including pressure cookers, BBs and remote control parts. She said Tamerlan researched via computer how to build the bombs and planned the attack. And his fingerprints — but not Dzhokhar’s — were found on pieces of the two bombs.
“We’re not asking you to excuse the conduct,” the defense attorney said, “but let’s look at the varying roles.”
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