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Convictions Come Down For Boston Marathon Bomber; Death Penalty Still Possible

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And as we've been reporting, a federal jury in Boston has found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty on all 30 counts in the bombing of the 2013 Boston Marathon. Three people were killed and more than 250 injured when two bombs exploded near the finish line. A police officer was killed days later. The charges included conspiracy and use of weapons of mass destruction. Seventeen of the 30 counts are punishable by death.

David Boeri of member station WBUR joins us now from the federal courthouse in Boston. And, David, this verdict had been widely expected for some time. How did Dzhokhar Tsarnaev react?

DAVID BOERI, BYLINE: Melissa, he reacted as impassively as he's reacted since the first day of the trial back on January 5. He stood for the reading. The reading lasted some 20 to 25 minutes. Never look at the jury, wrapped his arms around himself as he stood, occasionally put his hands in his pockets - but no reaction from him.

BLOCK: I gather a number of survivors and family members of the people who were killed were in the courtroom for the verdict. What did they have to say afterward - after the verdict came down?

BOERI: Karen Brassard is one of the survivors. She had sustained injuries from shrapnel along the finish line. Her daughter'd been injured as well. Her husband had had his artery - one of his arteries severed. And so on behalf of the victims, she spoke outside the courtroom this afternoon - outside the courthouse.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KAREN BRASSARD: It's not something that you'll ever be over, but we're all going to move on with our lives, and we're all going to get back to some sense of normalcy, hopefully, when this is all done. So closure - I guess, I don't think so, only because it's forever a part of our life.

BOERI: It's forever a part of her life. They asked - people asked whether she was in favor of the death penalty. She said she wouldn't personally make any comments on that. It was for every individual to decide.

BLOCK: Well, it will be up to the same jury that convicted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to determine whether he'll be sentenced to death or life in prison. What factors will go into that determination?

BOERI: So as we get to that second phase, there are two factors. For the government, it will present aggravating factors - why he deserves to die rather than live. And the defense will present mitigating factors. Judy Clarke is famous around the country for her opposition to the death penalty and taking on some of the most despicable clients and defendants in the courts. She will make the case why he deserves to live.

It was inevitably going this way. The defense wanted a plea deal with the government all along that would put Tsarnaev in life - in prison for life without the chance of parole. The government refused. So this became inevitable that they went to a death penalty phase. And that's where we're headed.

BLOCK: One of the pieces of evidence, I suppose, would be the inscription that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wrote on the inside of the boat where he was captured. I think you, actually, David, went to see the boat as part of the trial, where he said "I can't stand to see such evil go unpunished," talking about avenging the deaths of Muslims. It was a key part of the case in the guilt phase, and I assume it will be in the penalty phase as well.

BOERI: The government says this is tantamount to a confession - an admission that he was a jihadi at work with his brother, and he was hard-core. Not only that, but once again, in that second phase, I expect the jurors are going to see all the horror of blood and gore in the videos and photos that they've been shown before. And, you know, in 16 days, Melissa, they've seen more horror than most people have seen in a lifetime, and they probably can expect to see still more in the next phase.

BLOCK: OK, David Boeri of member station WBUR - David, thanks so much.

BOERI: You're welcome.

BLOCK: And again the news that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted today on all 30 counts in the Boston Marathon bombing trial. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.