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Tsarnaev Defense Concludes its Case at Boston Bombing Trial

  • Associated Press

FILE - In this courtroom sketch, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (c) is depicted between defense attorneys Miriam Conrad (l) and Judy Clarke (r) during his federal death penalty trial, Thursday, March 5, 2015, in Boston.

FILE - In this courtroom sketch, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (c) is depicted between defense attorneys Miriam Conrad (l) and Judy Clarke (r) during his federal death penalty trial, Thursday, March 5, 2015, in Boston.

Lawyers for convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Monday concluded their bid to persuade a jury to sentence him to life in prison rather than death.

The last of 44 witnesses called by his defense attorneys over eight days of testimony was a Roman Catholic nun, Helen Prejean. She is a noted death penalty opponent whose story of meeting with condemned prisoners on death row in U.S. prisons was portrayed in the 1995 movie, Dead Man Walking.

Prejean testified that she met with Tsarnaev five times in the last two months. She quoted him as saying, "No one deserves to suffer like they did," and said she heard "pain" in his voice when he said he regretted that the twin explosions near the finish line of the 2013 race in Boston killed three people and injured another 264, including 17 who lost limbs.

Defense lawyers did not call to the witness stand the 21-year-old Tsarnaev, a Chechen emigre to the U.S. Instead, they relied on the testimony of others to make their case that he played a secondary role to that of his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

In trying to avoid a death sentence for Dzhokhar, his attorneys have claimed that Tamerlan was radicalized, attempting to avenge U.S. wars in Muslim countries, and heavily influenced his brother to carry out the bombing plot with him.

The brothers also shot a university police officer to death as they attempted to flee Boston. Dzhokhar inadvertently ran over Tamerlan in a getaway car during a massive police manhunt for them, and later was apprehended while he hid in a parked boat in the backyard of a suburban Boston home.

The jury that now will decide his fate convicted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of all 30 charges he faced, including 17 that carry the possibility of the death penalty.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys are set to make their closing arguments Wednesday before the jury begins its deliberations.

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