Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty on Wednesday on all 30 counts he was charged with in relation to the Boston Marathon bombing, which occurred on April 15, 2013.
Tsarnaev had been indicted of 30 charges relating to homegrown terrorism, 17 of which are capital charges punishable by death.
The jury deliberated for over 11 hours following closing arguments from the prosecution and defense on Monday, having heard 95 witnesses over 16 days. Some members of the victim’s families were present in the courtroom.
Following the verdict, the federal trial is set to move into the penalty phase, where the same jury will decide whether Tsarnaev will get the death penalty or life in prison without parole. This second phase will begin next week in U.S. District Court in Boston.
Tsarnaev is an ethnic Chechen who immigrated to the U.S. as a young child and received U.S. citizenship on Sep. 11, 2012. He attended the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School where he was captain of the wrestling team, before moving on to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where he became a high-volume marijuana dealer. During these years, Tsarnaev grew increasingly more radicalized.
Almost exactly two years ago, the Tsarnaev brothers’ bombs killed three marathon spectators, handicapped 17 and wounded 240 more people, leaving many seriously injured.
Tsarnaev, now 21, executed the attack alongside his older brother Tamerlan, who was killed by Tsarnaev during a police shootout during which his brother ran him over with a stolen SUV.
In addition to the bombings, Dzohkar Tsarnaev was also convicted for the murder of MIT police officer Sean Collier, and was found guilty on this count.
Collier was killed several days after the bombings, as the brothers attempted to obtain his gun before escaping to New York City in accordance with their plan to detonate their remaining explosives in Times Square.
While hiding out in a boat in Watertown before being captured, Tsarnaev wrote a message saying that the bombing was retaliation for America’s military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The note also expressed Tsarnaev’s belief that his brother was now a martyr in paradise, and that he did not mourn his death. During a later interrogation, Tsarnaev confessed that the attack was motivated by extremist Islamic beliefs. Tsarnaev also revealed that he and his brother had learned to build explosive weapons online from a magazine published by Yemeni al-Qaeda affiliates.
During the trial, the defense tried to shift the blame to Tsarnaev’s deceased older brother, saying that he had a negative influence of Dzhokar.
Though Tsarnaev’s lawyers acknowledged that he took part in the crimes, they argued that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was responsible for radicalizing his younger brother and convincing him to carry out the attacks. The jury did not accept the defense’s theory, resolving that either way, Dzhokar Tsarnaev had aided and abetted the plot.
“While today’s verdict can never bring Sean back, we are thankful that Dzhokar Tsarnaev will be held accountable for the evil that he brought to so many families,’’ Sean Collier’s family said in a statement after the verdict. “We want to say how much we care for the victims and survivors of this senseless tragedy and their families.
“The strength and bond that everyone has shown during these last two years proves that if these terrorists thought that they would somehow strike fear in the hearts of people, they monumentally failed. We know Sean would be very proud of that.’’
During the penalty phase, the prosecution will present “aggravating factors,” the defense will present “mitigating factors,” and finally the jury will deliberate on Tsarnaev’s punishment.
Featured Image by Jane Collins / AP Photo