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“I sentence you to the penalty of death by execution,” intoned U.S. District Judge George O’Toole. “Whenever your name is mentioned, what will be remembered is the evil you have done. … What will be remembered is that you murdered and maimed innocent people.”  For his part, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev said “I’m sorry for the lives that I’ve taken, for the suffering that I’ve caused you, for the damage that I’ve done — irreparable damage.”

In a soft voice, Tsarnaev said, “The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said that if you do not—if you are not merciful to Allah’s creation, Allah will not be merciful to you,” he said. “So I’d like to now apologize to the victims, to the survivors.”  He continued: “I pray for your relief, for your healing, for your well-being, for your strength.”

No dice.

Judge O’Toole explained to Tsarnaev: “You tried to justify it to yourself by redefining what it is to be an innocent person so that you could convince yourself that Martin Richard was not innocent, that Lingzi Lu was not innocent, and the same for Krystle Campbell and Sean Collier and, therefore, they could be, should be killed. It was a monstrous self-deception. To accomplish it, you had to redefine yourself as well. You had to forget your own humanity… .”  The judge also easily brushed aside Tsarnaev’s reliance on God: “In Verdi’s opera Otello, the evil Iago tries to justify his malice. Credo in un Dio crudel, he sings. ‘I believe in a cruel god.’ Surely someone who believes that God smiles on and rewards the deliberate killing and maiming of innocents believes in a cruel god. That is not, it cannot be, the god of Islam. Anyone who has been led to believe otherwise has been maliciously and willfully deceived.”

Although Massachusetts, like New Jersey, has abolished the death penalty, Tsarnaev was found guilty of violating federal statutes 18 U.S.C. § 2332a (using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, resulting in death) and 18 U.S.C. §844(i) (malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device, resulting in death) both of which permit imposition of a death penalty.  Here, the jury made that choice.  Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will now die for the crimes he committed.  A jury in Boston had a chance to do, and did, the right thing.  I wonder if we should not re-examine our death penalty in New Jersey, at least for crimes of this kind.



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