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Jury reaches decision in Boston death penalty trial

BOSTON: The US jury deliberating whether to sentence 21-year-old Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death or life without parole reached a decision on Friday, a court official said.

The announcement was made in an email more than 14 hours after the 12-member panel began deliberations, spread across three days. The official said that court would reconvene at 3:00 pm (1900 GMT).

The same jury took 11 hours to convict him on April 8 on all 30 counts relating to the April 15, 2013 bombings, the murder of a police officer, a carjacking and a shootout while on the run.

Three people were killed and 264 others wounded, including 17 who lost limbs, in the twin blasts at the northeastern city’s popular marathon, one of the bloodiest assaults in America since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Any death penalty verdict must be unanimous. If even one juror objects, then he will be sentenced to life without release in America’s top security prison, ADX Florence, in Colorado.

Government prosecutors say Tsarnaev is a remorseless terrorist who deserves to die for inflicting carnage. The defense says he is a “lost kid,” manipulated into the “heinous crime” by his radical older brother.

Jurors had to complete a 24-page, eight-part verdict form that required each to weigh aggravating and mitigating factors.

They can unanimously sentence him to death on 17 convictions that carry the death penalty; sentence him to death only on some counts; sentence him to life unanimously; or conclude they cannot reach a unanimous verdict.

The defense disputed little evidence against Tsarnaev, but deployed dozens of witnesses in an attempt to save him from the death penalty by portraying older brother Tamerlan as the real culprit.

Tamerlan, 26, was shot dead by police while on the run. Government prosecutors insist that the younger Tsarnaev brother acted of his own free will as an adult. – AFP

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