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Boston Marathon Bomber Breaks Silence During Sentencing Hearing


After two years of near silence, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev spoke in federal court today and apologized. He and his brother Tamerlan detonated two bombs at the race in 2013, killing three and wounding more than 260 others. Tsarnaev was also convicted in the slaying of an MIT police officer a couple days later. A jury sentenced him to death in May. Today was his formal sentencing by the judge. WBUR's David Boeri covered the entire trial and was in the courtroom today. He joins us now. David, to start out, tell us about what happened today and what exactly Tsarnaev said.

DAVID BOERI, BYLINE: Sure, Rachel. Remember, during this trial, Tsarnaev was absolutely impassive, and victims - people in that courtroom thought he was insulate, that he was haughty, that he swaggered. They'd never heard his voice before, and today, he read a statement. He said he was sincere. He said, I would like to now apologize to the victims and the survivors immediately after the bombing which I'm guilty of. I did do it with my brother. He asked for Allah's forgiveness. He said, I'm sorry for the lives that I've taken, for the suffering that I've caused you, for the damage I've caused your - irrefutable damage. And he called for Allah to give mercy to the victims.

MARTIN: So there were some victims there in the courtroom, some family members. What was their reaction to what he said?

BOERI: Well, what they said was, look, he hasn't said why he did it. He's never renounced the political message. And remember, we have that political message he'd written on the boat in which police found him a couple of days after the bombings back in 2013 that said this is for political reasons. And the victims are, you know, are very, very angry. And then he talked about, this is the month of Ramadan. It's the month of forgiveness, as if he expected to be forgiven - Lynn Julian, who was one of the victims.

LYNN JULIAN: A sincere apology would have been nice. A simple, believable apology would have been great. And there was nothing simple about what he said, and there was nothing sincere.

MARTIN: One of the victims speaking outside the court room. So earlier in the day, David, I understand some family members, survivor, were able to speak inside the courtroom in what are called witness impact statements. What did they say at that point?

BOERI: Twenty-four of them spoke. There was anger, resentment. There was this unspeakable sadness. In some moments of grace, Patricia Campbell, the mother of Krystle Campbell, who was murdered in those bombings, told him the choices you made are despicable. You're very bright. You went down the wrong road. I wish you would've gotten help from your brother. I think the jury did the right thing. And of course, the jury gave him the death sentence. Bill Richard, the father of an eight-year-old who was murdered, said he could've stopped his brother. He could've changed his mind. He chose to do nothing. He chose hate. He chose destruction. He chose death. We chose love. We chose kindness. We chose piece. That's what makes us different from him.

MARTIN: And just briefly, will there be an appeal?

BOERI: Absolutely. There'll be years of appeals according to what we know about federal death penalty trials - years and years.

MARTIN: WBUR's David Boeri in Boston. Thanks so much.

BOERI: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.