On Wednesday, the now-convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty on all thirty counts with which he was charged, seventeen of which carry the death penalty. For the jurors, the decision to convict Tsarnaev came rather easily. The defense never denied his role in the bombing two years ago, but rather simply wanted to convince the jury of Dzhokhar’s older brother’s influence on him to commit the deadly act.
Nearly a hundred witnesses were called to the stand as the prosecution barraged the jury with graphic accounts and images of that fateful Marathon Monday not to prove Tsarnaev’s guilt, but to justify the death penalty. Massachusetts does not have the death penalty, but since Tsarnaev’s crimes are federal offenses, he becomes eligible for capital punishment and will likely get it.
Personally, I don’t want to see Dzhokhar Tsarnaev die. I don’t believe he deserves to die because I disagree with any violation of a human life. However, I feel guilty that I don’t want him dead. This despicable piece of shit took four lives, three at the Marathon and one at MIT. He injured dozens of others physically and mentally. His pressure cooker bombs placed strategically on Boylston Street at the finish line of the Marathon were intended to maim runners, spectators, and children especially. Tsarnaev believed he was fighting in spiritual warfare for Islam against the West, particularly America. He was and still is severely disturbed, but he does not deserve to die.
The reason I feel guilty opposing the death penalty for Tsarnaev is because the Marathon bombing was not my tragedy. I didn’t live in Boston two years ago. I wasn’t on campus. My parents were not concerned about where I was that day and could easily contact me. I didn’t endure the coming days while the ensuing manhunt raged on. I kept up with the events in Boston from the comfort of my own home, while daily life was altered for residents of this city and surrounding towns. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother robbed their innocence, and I will never fully understand that aspect of the bombings.
While the Marathon wasn’t my tragedy, I have felt its effects during my first year at Boston College. I know how important the thirty guilty verdicts were to citizens of Boston and why there were no cheers or “U-S-A!” chants in the streets when the jury revealed their ruling. The trial, the manhunt, the bombings. None of them should have happened, but the guilty verdicts brought closure. No one cheers for closure, though. People cheer for justice, but would killing Tsarnaev really constitute justice?
If Tsarnaev receives the death penalty as his sentence, I don’t believe justice will be carried out. Lingzi Lu, Krystle Campbell, Officer Sean Collier, and 8-year-old Martin Richard won’t be brought back with the death penalty. An eye for an eye is an outdated practice of justice, and Tsarnaev’s death does not make up for the lives lost on Marathon Monday.
The four people who died at the hands of Tsarnaev lived fulfilling lives. They were loved and cherished by their families and friends. Tsarnaev, on the other hand, is a worthless human being. Killing him would give the world, especially radical Muslims and Rolling Stone, the impression that his life was worth the four lives he took.
He would be a martyr to some radicals out there. Tsarnaev would have the satisfaction of believing he won and would end up in Heaven with his seventy-two virgins waiting for him. To kill Tsarnaev as some sort of reparation for Lu, Campbell, Collier, and Richard, as well as the injured and the mentally wounded would be an insult to their lives and their families.
I’d like to see Tsarnaev rot in a supermaximum security facility for the rest of his life. I hope he is tormented for the rest of his life knowing what he did to the wounded, the families of the dead, and the city of Boston. Killing him as soon as we can and washing our hands of any culpability sends a message that the Marathon bombings are something we can move on form and forget. Keeping Tsarnaev around, instead of giving him the easy way out, would be a testament to the city of Boston and why you don’t mess with her people.
I don’t want him to be a symbol of the tragedy on that April day, but rather a symbol of justice for everyone affected by the Marathon bombing. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is the scum of society, but killing him does no justice to the survivors and families of the victims because a worthless life does not make up for the lives full of potential that were lost on Marathon Monday 2013.