The families of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing spoke out at the hearing of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, asserting that the convicted killer willingly "chose destruction and hate."
Tsarnaev, now 21, was condemned to die by lethal injection by a federal jury in May for the attack he and his older brother Tamerlan carried out at the 2013 marathon. The Tsarnaev brothers detonated two pressure-cooker bombs near the Boston marathon finish line, killing three people and injuring 264.
According to a note Tsarnaev wrote inside the boat he was found hiding in following the attack, the bombing was intended to retaliate against the U.S. for its actions in Muslim countries.
On Wednesday, Tsarnaev appeared before U.S. District Court. Judge George O'Toole Jr., who is required to impose the jury's sentence under the federal death penalty law, and dozens of survivors and family members of his victims.
Bill Richard, the father of 8-year-old Martin, said Tsarnaev had the power to choose not to participate in the attack and could have stopped his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died following a gunfight with police, as well.
"He could have changed his mind the morning of April 15, 2013, walked away with a minimal sense of humanity and reported to authorities that his brother intended to hurt others," Richard said, the AP reports. "He chose hate. He chose destruction. He chose death. This is all on him."
Richard added that his family would have preferred that Tsarnaev receive a life sentence so that he could have had "a lifetime to reconcile with himself what he did that day."
However, he emphasized that his family has chosen love, kindness and peace, adding: "That is what makes us different than him."
Patricia Campbell, the mother of a woman killed in the bombings, also addressed Tsarnaev, looking directly at him as she spoke.
"What you did to my daughter is disgusting," said Campbell, the mother of 29-year-old Krystle Campbell. "I don't know what to say to you. I think the jury did the right thing."
During Tsarnaev's trial earlier this year, the court heard testimonies from the families of those killed, including Richard and Campbell, an aunt of Lingzi Lu, 23; and the brother of Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, 26, who was fatally shot by Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
The AFP notes that jurors also viewed recordings of the twin blasts as pressure-cooker bombs exploded in the crowd near the finish line as well as viewed footage of the ensuing chaos as spectators and emergency personnel scrambled to aid the wounded.
The jurors weighed 12 aggravating factors against 21 mitigating factors in determining Dzhokhar's Tsarnaev's sentence. They were charged to consider the suffering Tsarnaev caused, his intent, his character and even whether or not he was remorseful. Ultimately, Tsarnaev was convicted on all 30 counts and sentenced to death on six of them.
According to the Boston Globe, Liz Norden, the mother of two adult sons who each lost a leg during the bombing, approved the death sentence.
"There are no winners today, but I feel justice for my family," Norden said. "I have to watch my two sons put on a leg every day. So I don't know about closure. But I can tell you it feels like a weight has been pulled off my shoulders."
In an editorial in the Boston Globe earlier this year, the Richard family wrote that the Boston Marathon bombing should be remembered in terms of "the resiliency of the human spirit and the rallying cries of this great city."
"We honor those who were lost and wish continued strength for all those who were injured," they wrote. "We believe that now is the time to turn the page, end the anguish, and look toward a better future - for us, for Boston, and for the country."