The Boston Marathon bombing left four dead (including an eight-year-old child) and 260 injured, requiring 14 amputations. 27 local hospitals were tied-up in treating the wounded from two pressure-cooker bombs filled with nails, BBs and other projectiles. One of the bombers survived a police shootout and escaped, leading to an unprecedented manhunt that included the decision by law enforcement to lock down the entire city of Boston and many surrounding towns. It was the worst attack on U.S. soil since the events of 9/11, a dozen years earlier. Following this atrocity, what would justice mean for the surviving bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a native of the former Soviet Union who grew up in Massachusetts and committed the crime at age 19. He was charged with detonating a weapon of mass destruction, a crime that could be subject to the death penalty. We re-tell this powerful story and hear from Harvard Law School professor Nancy Gertner, who served seventeen years as a U.S. District Court judge in Boston.
The fact that we offer a death penalty hearing where a jury decides whether or not to recommend death suggests that in even the most heinous crimes, everything is mitigated by the possibility of mercy. And that’s what justice is supposed to be about, even in as heinous a crime as this.”
—Nancy Gertner, retired U.S. District Court judge