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Boston Bomber Admits Guilt, Receives Death Sentence

Boston Bomber's Statement Questioned
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Watch related video report from VOA's Zlatica Hoke.

Convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev apologized at his sentencing hearing Wednesday before he was formally sentenced to death for the deadly 2013 attack.

The 21-year Chechen immigrant stood in a federal courtroom in Boston and admitted that he and his late older brother, Tamerlan, planted two pressure-cooker bombs that exploded near the finish line of the legendary race on April 15, 2013, killing three people and leaving 264 others injured, including 17 who suffered severed limbs.

"I am sorry for the lives that I've taken, for the suffering that I caused you, for the damage I've done, irreparable damage" Tsarnaev said in his first public remarks since his arrest.

But Judge George O'Toole offered no sympathy for Tsarnaev as he handed down the death sentence, saying no one will remember the kind of person he was before the bombing. "What will be remembered is that you murdered and maimed innocent people, and that you did it willfully and intentionally," said O'Toole.

Before making his statement, Tsarnaev sat impassively and listened to three hours of testimony from 24 victims and survivors who told how the bombing had adversely affected their lives. The mother of Krystal Campbell, one of the three people killed in the bombing, lashed out at Tsarnaev, saying "the choices that you made are despicable and what you did to my daughter is disgusting."

Many of the survivors questioned and even rejected Tsarnaev's expression of remorse, calling it insincere. But one survivor, Henry Borgard, told reporters after the hearing that he accepted Tsarnaev's apology.

"I was actually really happy that he made the statement," said Borgard, who was injured as he was walking home from work that day. "As I said in my personal impact statement, I have forgiven him. I have come to a place of peace and I genuinely hope that he does as well. For me to hear him say that he's sorry, that is enough for me."

And the father of 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was also killed in the attack along with Campbell and Chinese exchange student Lingzi Lu, said he and his family have moved on.

"He chose hate. He chose destruction. He chose death,” said Bill Richard. “This is all on him. We choose love. We choose kindness. We choose peace.”

The jury voted unanimously last month to condemn Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death, just days after convicting him on all 30 charges brought against him -- 17 of which carried the possibility of the death penalty. In addition to the three bombing victims, Tsarnaev was also convicted in the death of Sean Collier, a police officer with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Police Department killed during a shootout with the Tsarnaev brothers three days after the attack.

His attorneys argued during the penalty phase of the trial that Dzhokhar was under the strong influence of his radicalized older brother, who was killed in the same shootout that killed MIT police officer Collier.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will likely be sent to a federal prison in Indiana to await execution -- a process that could take years as his lawyers appeal his case through the federal court system.

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