Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the young man partially responsible for a bombing that killed three people and wounded more than 200 others, was sentenced to death Friday by a federal jury. The decision brings an end to a saga that began on April 15, 2013, when Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan planted pressure cooker bombs at the Boston Marathon. The two were said to be driven by radical Islamic beliefs.
Tsarnaev will not likely be executed in the near future. Appeals will delay the sentence for years and federal executions are currently on hold while investigators evaluate the fatal solution used to put criminals to death. When he does meet his fate, he will become the first terrorist to be executed since 9/11.
In delivering the decision, the jury rejected defense claims that Tsarnaev was remorseful for his actions on that bloody day. Despite the testimony of Sister Helen Prejean, a prominent opponent of the death penalty who inspired the 1995 movie Dead Man Walking, jurors decided that Tsarnaev deserved the death penalty for his part in the deadly plot. Also rejected was the defense’s strategy of blaming older brother Tamerlan for leading Dzhokhar down a radical path.
“Today the jury has spoken. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will pay for his crimes with his life,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz.
Given the setting – liberal, anti-death penalty Massachusetts – some were surprised that the jury decided on sending Tsarnaev to his death. Critics argue that such a decision merely makes a martyr out of the former college students, strengthening the resolve of Islamic fundamentalists who wish to follow his example. On the other hand, even those with serious reservations about the death penalty have admitted that if anyone deserves it, he does.
It’s not necessarily good form to celebrate the taking of any human life, but Tsarnaev more than earned his ultimate fate. Anyone who can look at the innocent face of child victim Martin Richard and still weep for Tsarnaev is cut from a different cloth than this commentator. Then again, judging by the uproar over the “torture report” last year, America isn’t lacking for people who feel sorry for terrorists.
Opponents of the death penalty argue that it’s not a proven deterrent against crime. That may be true – the statistics seem to bear this argument out – but the question is whether or not it needs to be. Is it not enough that we rid the world of savages who believe that mass murder is the answer to their problems with society? Why should a scumbag like Tsarnaev get to live a long life when he stole that right from little Martin Richard? Even if that life was to be lived in a maximum-security prison, it’s more than he deserves.
To the jurors who made this brave decision, I say well done. To the men and women who have suffered and died because of this man’s actions, I save all my grief for you. And to Tsarnaev, I say so long. The world will be just a little bit better once you’ve moved on to your eternal reward. I can only hope it’s a hot one.