BOSTON -- Prosecutors and defense attorneys yesterday made their final appeals to the jury that will decide the fate of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as jurors began deliberating whether the Boston Marathon bomber should get life in prison or the death penalty.
"The choice between these very serious alternatives is yours and yours alone to make," Judge George O'Toole Jr. told the panel.
Jurors got the case late in the day and deliberated for about 45 minutes before going home. They will return to the federal courthouse today to resume their work.
The jury must be unanimous in its decision to impose the death penalty. If even a single member votes against death, Tsarnaev will get life in prison.
Prosecutor Steve Mellin said Tsarnaev wanted to cause his victims as much physical pain as possible to make a political statement.
"The bombs burned their skin, shattered their bones and ripped their flesh," Mellin said. The blasts "disfigured their bodies, twisted their limbs and punched gaping holes into their legs and torsos."
"Merely killing the person," he said, "isn't nearly as terrifying as shredding them apart."
Defense attorney Judy Clarke asked jurors to spare Tsarnaev's life, saying her client "is not the worst of the worst, and that's what the death penalty is reserved for."
She asked jurors to hold open their minds and try to understand how and why Tsarnaev became involved in the plot.
"We think that we have shown you that it's not only possible, but probable that Dzhokhar has potential for redemption," she said, adding that he was "genuinely sorry for what he's done."