The sentencing phase for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev began on Tuesday (April 21) with the prosecution’s arguments on why the jury should give the defendant the death penalty.
On April 8, a jury found Tsarnaev guilty on all 30 counts he was charged with, which included the use of weapons of mass destruction, bombing a place of public use, of conspiracy and aiding and abetting, CNN reported.
The jury will now decide whether Tsarnaev, 21, should receive the death penalty for his crimes. The sentencing phase will likely conclude sometime in May.
The death penalty remains a contentious issue in the Northeast, specifically in the state of Massachusetts. The Bay State is known for its more liberal politics, including banning the death penalty in 1984. Despite the state’s ban, the federal government is still allowed to try for life-or-death rather than life in prison with parole, the highest punishment for first-degree murder in the state.
However, many northeastern residents seem to have a different opinion than normal. In a new poll conducted by CNN, 58 percent of those residing in the Northeast support Tsarnaev being put to death. In another question, 52 percent of respondents favor the death penalty.
Those who were in the dissenting opinion of the poll include Bill and Denise Richard, the parents of 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was killed the day of the 2013 marathon. In an op-ed to the Boston Globe, they advocated for the jury to not give Tsarnaev the death penalty.
“We understand all too well the heinousness and brutality of the crimes committed. We were there. We lived it. The defendant murdered our 8-year-old son, maimed our 7-year-old daughter, and stole part of our soul. We know that the government has its reasons for seeking the death penalty, but the continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives,” the Richard’s wrote.
Other victims have expressed a differing opinion. Liz Norden, whose two boys lost limbs in the attacks, said that Tsarnaev deserved “the ultimate justice” by receiving the death penalty, the New York Times reported.