US & Canada

Boston bombing: How will Dzhokhar Tsarnaev die?

Tsarnaev may receive a lethal injection inside this death chamber at a federal prison in Indiana Image copyright AP
Image caption Tsarnaev may receive a lethal injection inside this death chamber at a federal prison in Indiana

A jury has sentenced Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death for his role in the bombing of the 2013 Boston Marathon. What happens now as he awaits execution?

The 21-year-old Boston bomber will soon be leaving the state of Massachusetts, where he has lived since moving to the US from Russia at the age of eight.

He is likely to be moved to a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, to await execution by lethal injection. The punishment was brought back into use for federal crimes in 1988.

So far only three out of 74 inmates who have received death sentences in the federal court system have been put to death - all three in Terre Haute.

Timothy McVeigh, who orchestrated the bombing of an Oklahoma City federal building, was put to death within that prison's walls.

Tsarnaev's lawyers are expected to appeal against the decision, a process which could take many years in court to resolve.

Death row inmates commonly spend more than a decade waiting for their punishment, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, an advocacy group that opposes the practice.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A red sky over the Terre Haute Federal Prison

In the case of Manuel Valle, it took 33 years for authorities to execute him for killing a police officer in Florida.

The state of Massachusetts no longer has the death penalty but it was an option in this case because Tsarnaev has been charged with federal crimes. A recent Boston Globe poll found that only 15% of people in the city believed he should be executed.

The parents of Martin Richard, an eight-year-old boy killed in the blast, wrote an article in the Boston Globe newspaper last month asking the government to not seek a death sentence as it would delay their emotional closure.

"The continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives.

"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," wrote Bill and Denise Richard.

Image copyright Reuters

Prosecutor Steve Mellin told the jury before they began deliberations that death was the only proper punishment for Tsarnaev, who was a 19-year-old student in university when he set the bomb to explode at the marathon's finishing line.

"This defendant does not want to die. You know that because he had many opportunities to die on the streets of Boston and Watertown," said Mr Mellin.

"A death sentence is not giving him what he wants. It is giving him what he deserves."