Accused marathon bomber 'wanted to punish America'
Accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev "wanted to punish America" when he killed three people and injured 264 with a pair of homemade bombs at the 2013 race, a federal prosecutor said yesterday.
In closing arguments before a jury decides whether Tsarnaev (21) is guilty of the April 25 bombing and of fatally shooting a police officer three days later, Assistant US Attorney Aloke Chakravarty described the attack as deliberate and extremist.
"The defendant thought his values were more important than the people around him. He wanted to awake the mujahedeen, the holy warriors," he said. "He wanted to terrorise this country. He wanted to punish America for what it was doing to his people."
Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen who moved to the US about a decade before the attack, could be sentenced to death if the jury that heard 16 days of testimony against him finds him guilty.
His lawyers opened the trial a month ago with a blunt admission, that "it was him" who carried out the attack. But they contended that Tsarnaev did so not out of his own ideological anger but out of a sense of subservience to his older brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan, who prosecutors say was his partner in the attack.
Mr Chakravarty took that argument head-on yesterday, describing Tsarnaev's reading of al-Qaida's Inspire magazine.
"These were political choices," he said of Tsarnaev's actions. "He was making a statement, 'an eye for an eye'."
Tamerlan died early on April 19, 2013, following a gunfight with police that ended when Dzhokhar sped off in a car, running his brother over in the process. Dzhokhar later hid in a boat in a backyard, where he wrote a note suggesting the attack was an act of retribution for US military campaigns in Muslim-dominated countries.
Yesterday's closing statements could be a preview of the arguments each side plans to make during the next phase of the trial, when the same jury will hear a fresh round of witness testimony before determining whether to sentence Tsarnaev to life in prison without possibility of parole or to death.
The jury yesterday viewed footage of Tsarnaev standing with a backpack in the crowd at the marathon's finish line minutes before the blasts that killed restaurant manager Krystle Campbell (29), Chinese exchange student Lingzi Lu (23) and eight-year-old Martin Richard. He is also accused of the fatal shooting of Massachusetts of Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier (26).