BOSTON - Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev yesterday faced about 20 people who lost limbs or loved ones in the deadly 2013 attack as a federal judge was expected to sentence him to death for his crimes.
The same federal jury that earlier this year found Tsarnaev guilty of killing four people and injuring 264 in the bombing and its aftermath voted in May to sentence him to death by lethal injection. US district judge George O'Toole was to order the punishment yesterday.
"You went down the wrong road," Ms Patricia Campbell, whose daughter Krystle, 29, was one of three people killed by the twin pressure-cooker bombs, told Tsarnaev, who carried out one of the highest-profile attacks on US soil since Sept 11, 2001.
"I know life is hard, but the choices you made were despicable and what you did to my daughter was disgusting," said Ms Campbell, who was the first of about two dozen survivors and relatives of the slain to make statements in federal court.
Tsarnaev appeared in court dressed in a dark sport jacket and open-collared shirt, still sporting the bushy hair and light beard he had worn during the trial. He looked down and showed no emotion.
The trial brought back some of Boston's darkest living memories. Jurors saw videos of the bombs' blinding flashes and the chaotic aftermath on April 15, 2013, as emergency workers and spectators rushed to aid the wounded, many of whom lost legs.
Also killed that day were eight-year-old Martin Richard and Chinese exchange student Lu Lingzi, 26. Tsarnaev and his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan, shot dead Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, 26, three days after the bombing.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following a gunfight with police after that.
During the trial, federal prosecutors described the ethnic Chechen brothers as adherents of Al-Qaeda's militant Islamist ideology who wanted to "punish America" with the attack on the world-renowned race.
Tsarnaev's lawyers admitted their client had played a role in the attack but tried to portray him as the junior partner in a scheme hatched and driven by his older brother. The Tsarnaev family came to the US from Russia a decade before the attack.
The parents of Martin Richard directly addressed the defence's claim. "He could have stopped his brother," said Mr William Richard, who testified during the trial about the agonising decision he made to leave his son to die in his wife's arms so that he could save the life of his daughter, Jane, who lost a leg in the attack.
Even after the sentencing, the legal wrangling over Tsarnaev's fate could play out over years. Just three of the 74 people sentenced to death in the US for federal crimes since 1998 have been executed.