A federal jury found Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev guilty Wednesday on a slate of charges in connection with the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, including many that carry the death penalty.
The string of guilty verdicts on the 30-count indictment closed one chapter and opened another, as Tsarnaev will now face the same jury once more with the federal death penalty on the line. There is no death penalty in Massachusetts, but Tsarnaev was convicted of federal charges.
On Wednesday afternoon, Harvard affiliates reacted to the rulings, which were delivered just short of two years after the bombings at the Marathon that killed three people: former Business School employee Krystle Campbell, Boston University graduate student Lu Lingzi, and 8-year-old Martin Richard of Dorchester. The bombings and subsequent manhunt for Tsarnaev and his late older brother wreaked havoc in Greater Boston and Cambridge.
Savanna M. Arral ’16, who was close to the site of the bombings when they took place, said she is “very happy” with the jury’s decision.
“I think that the most important thing about the verdict is that it’s going to give closure to all of the people that were affected by this. They needed this,” she said. “I think this is the end of a long road for a lot of people.”
David Luberoff, a senior project advisor to the Radcliffe Institute’s Boston Area Research Initiative, said the Boston Marathon bombings have become a defining moment for the city and “part of the tapestry of Boston.” In a course that Luberoff instructs, U.S. in the World 24: "Reinventing Boston: The Changing American City,” students reflect on legacies of the bombing, including the “Boston Strong” movement that emerged from it.
Sarah R. Siskind ’14, a former Crimson columnist who entered the race informally to help a friend, said she is pleased that the case was conducted “so dispassionately” through a judicial process.
“If anything, hopefully this case lends a little bit more confidence into the American judicial system,” Siskind said.
Commonwealth officials also reacted to the rulings. Massachusetts Governor Charles D. Baker ’79 said at a press conference Wednesday that he agrees with the jury’s decision.
“Certainly based on everything I saw, I have no problem with it. I think at this point it’s up to the jury to make the decision about what happens next,” he said. Baker added that he would support the death penalty for Tsarnaev.
“I said last year that for a crime like this I would support the death penalty. I continue to, but obviously this is a decision that gets made by the jury,” Baker said.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Attorney General of Massachusetts Maura T. Healey ’92 called the decision “a just verdict.”
“At a time of great tragedy, we were reminded of the strength of this community which showed the world that those who seek to do us harm will not triumph here,” the statement read.
Tsarnaev will soon face a second phase of his trial in which a jury will decide whether to sentence him to death. Martha M. Coakley, a former attorney general of Massachusetts and a fellow at the Institute of Politics, told WCVB-TV on Wednesday that appeals may be expected but can “take years.”
But though the so-called “second phase” of Tsarnaev’s legal process is about to begin, Erick M. Juarez ’15, who was close to the site of the bombings when they happened, called the guilty rulings “another step forward.”
“Regardless of whether or not he receives a death penalty, I don’t think it will make too much of a difference,” he added. “I’m really happy that justice was served, but no amount of justice is going to be enough to compensate for the lives of the victims.”
—Staff Writer Zara Zhang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @zarazhangrui.
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