BOSTON — As she argued for the life of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev last week, defense lawyer Judy Clarke was looking for just one juror who’d be moved by her words: “We’re asking you to choose life … a sentence that reflects justice and mercy.”
Perhaps there’d be a Catholic, even a lapsed Catholic in this very Catholic town, who heard Clarke and remembered those New Testament lines from Sunday Mass: no more eye for an eye. We must, must, love our enemies.
Now we know that Clarke did not find such a juror. Tsarnaev was sentenced to death in a city, Boston, and a state, Massachusetts, that opposes the death penalty even in this case of the Boston Marathon bomber. He was sentenced in front of Bill and Denise Richard, who publicly expressed their wish for life in prison, not death, even though Tsarnaev placed his bomb right behind their children, Martin, 8, who was killed, and Jane, then 6, who lost her leg.
In the courtroom, I scoured the men and women in the jury box listening intently to Clarke, a calm and plainspoken middle-aged woman in sensible shoes and no makeup, not even lipstick. “Is there hope for him?” she asked. “Is there hope for redemption?”
The jury answered: no.
I had hoped for a different answer.
The marathon bombing was personal to me, as it was to thousands here. For 27 years, I’ve lived a few doors up from its Beacon Street route. On the day of the bombing, I interviewed dazed and bloodied runners on Commonwealth Avenue who described an unspeakable scene at the finish line. I’ve interviewed survivors, among them Jeff Bauman, who lost both his legs, and Carlos Arredondo, the man in the cowboy hat who rushed the gray-faced Bauman down the street in a wheelchair to medical care.
This does not mean I understand at all what survivors have lost and endured. It only means I have some small sense of the anguish here, and I believe the death sentence will only add to that anguish, not diminish it.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev murdered and maimed and showed no remorse, even with survivors of his madness testifying just feet away from him.
Still, I had hoped we’d send a different message to the world from the people of Boston, the people of Massachusetts and the United States of America. That it’s no more eye for an eye here in 2015.
But we are not like him.
We do not.