Like many New Englanders, I waited to see what the Boston federal court jury would determine would be an appropriate sentence for Dzhokar Tsarnaev, the Kyrgyzstan native who, along with his brother, built and planted two bombs at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. The bombs killed three people, including an 8-year-old boy, and injured scores more on a perfect Spring day in the Massachusetts capital city.
I wondered if the Boston jury would show mercy. If they would realize that science shows that teen brains are still developing at 19, the age Dzhokar was when he appeared to casually drop next to a little boy a backpack filled with a bomb designed for maximum destruction. Dzhokhar was a child himself, really, at the time. A college freshman, he was apparently very bright and somewhat popular in high school. But something went terribly wrong, somewhere, and his young life was essentially over the moment that he was caught by Boston police.
I had hoped that decency and common sense would prevail in that jury room. That the men and women who had the opportunity to impose a reasonable sentence of life without the possibility of release would do just that. They did not. Instead, they sentenced this man-boychild to die. He is now the sixty-first person on federal death row.
It made me sick. Physically ill. What does the United States government hope to achieve by putting to death someone who admitted what he did was wrong?