The parents of a young boy who was killed in the Boston Marathon bombings are asking the Justice Department to drop the death penalty as a possible punishment for bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Bill and Denise Richard wrote in a front-page piece in the Boston Globe on Friday that they wanted the case to end and that the continued pursuit of the death penalty "could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives."
The couple's 8-year-old son was one of three people killed in the bombings two years ago. A second child, their 7-year-old daughter, lost one of her legs in the explosions.
The couple urged the Justice Department to take the death penalty off the table in exchange for a life prison sentence without the possibility of release or appeal for the defendant.
"As long as the defendant is in the spotlight, we have no choice but to live a story told on his terms, not ours. The minute the defendant fades from our newspapers and TV screens is the minute we begin the process of rebuilding our lives and our family," they said.
“We understand all too well the heinousness and brutality of the crimes committed,” they said. “We were there. We lived it. The defendant murdered our 8-year-old son, maimed our 7-year-old daughter and stole part of our soul.”
A federal court in Boston is expected to begin the penalty phase against Tsarnaev, a Chechen immigrant, next week. A jury convicted him last week of all 30 charges he faced, including 17 that carry a possible death penalty.
Jurors would have to vote unanimously to sentence Tsarnaev to death.
His lawyers admitted from the start of the federal trial that Dzhokhar, who was 19 at the time, was involved in the plot to detonate two homemade pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the annual Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring another 264, with 17 people losing limbs and many others maimed from flying shrapnel.
But the defense has argued that his radicalized elder brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was the driving force behind the attack. Noted defense attorney Judy Clarke, who has successfully kept other notorious U.S. murder convicts off death row, told the jury in her closing argument, "If not for Tamerlan, it would not have happened."
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed days after the April 15, 2013, blasts, when Dzhokhar inadvertently drove over him as the two brothers attempted to escape a massive police manhunt throughout the Boston area. They shot a university policeman to death while attempting to flee authorities.