My husband and I sit at our small, wood kitchen table eating giant bowls of ramen as the 30 guilty verdicts come in for marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 8, 2015. I remember having a moment of levity at the table almost two years ago, eating Niman Ranch Fearless Franks and Ore-Ida tater tots, when our city of Cambridge and the Boston area were on lockdown so the police could chase down Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan.
WBUR’s Bob Oakes’ voice is strong but trembles with emotion as he delivers the news of the guilty verdicts. It brings those harrowing events back for us, too. And it’s hard to believe it’s been two years since the Boston Marathon when three people were killed and 264 injured and MIT Police Officer Sean Collier was shot. After Oakes reports, former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn suggests the families should have a say in whether Tsarnaev gets the death penalty for his crimes. Flynn says Tsarnaev’s “arrogance” on the stand will likely have an impact on his fate.
The jury has delivered its verdicts in approximately 11 hours — very fast for a trial of this magnitude — but the sentencing will begin April 21, the day after Marathon Monday. Seventeen of the 30 counts carry either a death sentence or life imprisonment.
Listening to the verdicts on the radio takes us back to the events of those days. I just dreamt about being on lockdown the other night. I remember several close friends who lived in Belmont and Watertown at the time were terrified. Earlier in the evening on the night the chase occurred I saw the bomb squad across the street from the bar at which I gulped a white wine. My sister made fun of me when I texted to say the bomb squad’s presence scared me, in light of the marathon bombing. And then the next morning my other sister called to tell me not to leave my house. We just do the best we can. Wine, humor, connection.
We all want closure, though we know that is impossible for the families of the victims. While many heroes came together during and in the wake of this horrendous act, one cannot erase the fact that the nightmare continues for so many.
After we leave our kitchen table I see my husband wiping tears from his eyes. We’ve been discussing the case over the last months, naturally. We most recently agreed even if Tamerlan was the mastermind (loose definition of the word) that doesn’t mean what the younger brother did was not a crime — whether or not he was influenced. I do agree with Peter Sagal’s tweet: “But don’t put him to death. I can’t see the merit in adding one more body to the pile he made. Let him live. Let him regret.”
Jenn Sutkowski hopes the verdicts bring some comfort to the victims and their families and that the jury and everyone in the courtroom can heal after seeing the photographs and videos leading up to sentencing.
This Full Frontal column was first published in the Newport Mercury.
It's me, Jennifer Bernice (rhymes with "Furnace": it was my Granny's name) Sutkowski
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