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Boston bomber to be formally sentenced to death

Accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is shown in a courtroom sketch. ©Reuters Accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is shown in a courtroom sketch. ©Reuters

A US federal judge will formally sentence Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death at a court hearing Wednesday when the 21-year-old former student will be offered the chance to speak, AFP reports.

The ex pot-smoker of Chechen descent, who came to the United States as a child and took citizenship in 2012, kept silent throughout his trial, which ended with the jury sentencing him to death on May 15.

Victims and their relatives are expected to address the court Wednesday. Judge George O'Toole will then officially hand down the sentence, reached unanimously by the 12-person jury.

Tsarnaev expressed little emotion throughout his 12-week trial despite harrowing testimony and grisly video footage.

Neither has he expressed any public remorse, although a prominent Catholic nun, Sister Helen Prejean, who visited him in jail said that he did to her.

"No one deserves to suffer like they did," she quoted him as saying.

The April 15, 2013 double bombings at the Boston Marathon were one of the worst assaults on American soil since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Carried out by Tsarnaev and his older brother Tamerlan, the bombs killed three people and wounded 264 others, including 17 who lost limbs, near the finish line at the northeastern city's popular marathon.

It took the jury more than 14 hours to choose death rather than life imprisonment for Tsarnaev on six counts.

It was a stinging defeat to the defense, who argued for a "lost kid" who would never have committed such horrors without being manipulated by his older brother.

The brothers went on the run and killed a police officer, before Tamerlan was shot dead and Tsarnaev arrested, four days later.

He was found, injured, in a grounded boat on which he had scrawled a bloody message defending the attacks as a means to avenge US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Only three out of 12 jurors said he acted under Tamerlan's influence or that Tamerlan directed the bombings, while only one juror determined he was unlikely to commit or incite acts of violence while serving a life sentence. 

The jury also rejected arguments from his defense team that he was the product of a chaotic family life, with a mentally ill father and his parents returning to Russia in 2012.

During the trial, government prosecutors argued Tsarnaev was a remorseless terrorist who deserved to die and declared that life imprisonment would be the "minimum" punishment.

The death sentence is possible only under federal law. The state of Massachusetts outlawed capital punishment in 1947 and opinion polls had suggested residents favored a life sentence for Tsarnaev.

Tsarnaev will then be flown to either America's only "super-max" prison, ADX Florence, in Colorado or to the penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana where male inmates sit on federal death row

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