The victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing received justice after a federal jury convicted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on 30 criminal counts. Now the parents of 8-year-old victim Martin Richard have urged prosecutors on Friday not to pursue the death penalty.
In an essay published in the Boston Globe, Bill and Denise Richard argued that the process of deciding whether or not Tsearnaev should be sentenced to death would only prolong the grief experienced by victims and their families. According to Jon Schuppe, Pete Williams and Tom Winter of NBC News, 17 of the 30 criminal counts carried the possibility of execution.
"We know that the government has its reasons for seeking the death penalty, but the continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives," the Richards wrote. "We hope our two remaining children do not have to grow up with the lingering, painful reminder of what the defendant took from them, which years of appeals would undoubtedly bring."
According to NBC News, the father testified that he saw his son mortally wounded by the blast. The report described the extent of their horrible injuries.
"He recalled the shrapnel that damaged his wife's vision and maimed his daughter, Jane, who is now 9," Schuppe, Williams and Winter wrote. "The Richards' other son, 13-year-old Henry, was not seriously injured."
NBC News reported that the penalty phase for Tsarnaev will begin next week. The government is expected to argue in favor of the death penalty, while the defense will fight for his life by claiming that Tsarnaev was manipulated by his late brother, Tamerlan, in carrying out the bombings.
"If Tsarnaev is sentenced to death, the execution will undoubtedly be delayed by an extensive appeals process that typically lasts years," Schuppe, Williams and Winter wrote.
As outlined by their essay, the Richards would support "the Department of Justice in taking the death penalty off the table in exchange for the defendant spending the rest of his life in prison without any possibility of release and waiving all of his rights to appeal." They argued that this option would highlight "the resiliency of the human spirit and the rallying cries of this great city."
"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 Richards wrote. "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."
The Richards elaborated on the toll the Boston Marathon bombing trial has taken on them, noting that this was "a deeply personal issue" to them.
"The past two years have been the most trying of our lives," the Richards wrote. "We sat in the courtroom, day after day, bearing witness to overwhelming evidence that included graphic video and photographs, replicated bombs, and even the clothes our son wore his last day alive."
In concluding their essay, the family added that "peace of mind was taken not just from us, but from all Americans."
"We honor those who were lost and wish continued strength for all those who were injured," the Richards 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."