BOSTON — Two years after bombs in two backpacks transformed the Boston Marathon from a sunny rite of spring to a smoky battlefield with bodies dismembered, a federal jury on Friday condemned Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death for his role in the 2013 attack.
In a sweeping rejection of the defense case, the jury found that death was the appropriate punishment for six of 17 capital counts — all six related to Mr. Tsarnaev’s planting of a pressure-cooker bomb on Boylston Street, which his lawyers never disputed. Mr. Tsarnaev, 21, stood stone-faced in court, his hands folded in front of him, as the verdict was read, his lawyers standing grimly at his side.
Immediate reaction was mostly subdued.
“Happy is not the word I would use,” said Karen Brassard, who suffered grievous leg injuries in the bombing. “There’s nothing happy about having to take somebody’s life. I’m satisfied, I’m grateful that they came to that conclusion, because for me I think it was the just conclusion.”
She said she understood that all-but-certain appeals meant the case could drag out over years if not decades. “But right now,” she said, “it feels like we can take a breath and kind of actually breathe again.”
The bombings two years ago turned one of this city’s most cherished athletic events into a grim tragedy — the worst terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001. Three people were killed, and 17 people lost at least one leg. More than 240 others sustained serious injuries.
Last month, after deliberating for 11 hours, the jury found Mr. Tsarnaev guilty of all 30 charges against him in connection with the bombings and the death a few days later of a fourth person, an M.I.T. police officer. The same jury spent 14 hours over three days deliberating the sentence.
With its decision, the jury rejected virtually every argument that the defense put forth, including the centerpiece of its case — that Mr. Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan, had held a malevolent sway over him and led him into committing the crimes.
According to verdict forms that the jurors completed, only three of the 12 jurors believed that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had acted under his brother’s influence.
Beyond that, the jury put little stock in any part of the defense. Only two jurors believed that Mr. Tsarnaev had expressed sorrow and remorse for his actions, a stinging rebuke to the assertion by Sister Helen Prejean, a Roman Catholic nun and renowned death penalty opponent, that he was “genuinely sorry” for what he had done.
When the jury entered the courtroom at 3:10 p.m. Friday, the forewoman passed an envelope to Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. of United States District Court, who had presided over the case. Jurors remained standing while the clerk read aloud the 24-page verdict form, which took 20 minutes. It was not clear until the end that the sentence was death, though all signs along the way pointed in that direction.
Not a sound was heard in the packed courtroom throughout the proceedings. Those in attendance — survivors, victims’ families, the public, the news media — had been sternly warned that any outburst would amount to contempt of court.
The Tsarnaev verdict goes against the grain in Massachusetts, which has no death penalty for state crimes. Throughout the trial, polls also showed that residents overwhelmingly favored life in prison for Mr. Tsarnaev.
It was the first time a federal jury had sentenced a terrorist to death in the post-Sept. 11 era, according to Kevin McNally, director of the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project, which coordinates the defense in capital punishment cases.
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch called the death sentence a “fitting punishment.”