A photo of then 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev flipping his middle finger took center stage during Wednesday’s sentencing session. The photo was a screenshot of footage taken from a surveillance camera inside Tsarnaev’s cell. The photo has become all the more mortifying as Tsarnaev was alone inside the cell when he randomly flipped his middle finger.
The government wants Tsarnaev to face death, while the defense seeks life in prison.
Boston Marathon Bombing Trial: Life or death for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
Tsarnaev’s photo was taken in 2013, the time when he’d already been implicated in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing, The New York Times reported.
Prosecutor Nadine Pellegrini showed the photo in the courtroom to paint a picture of Tsarnaev as a callous murderer. The photo was shown in an effort to convince the jury to give Tsarnaev the death penalty.
“This is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, unconcerned, unrepentant and unchanged. Without remorse, he remains untouched by the grief and the loss he caused, and he remains the unrepentant killer,” Pellegrini told the court.
“His destiny was determined by his actions, and he was destined and determined to be America’s worst nightmare,” Pellegrini said. Tsarnaev “twisted the marathon into something cruel and ugly for his own purposes” and because of this, he should be sentenced to death, Pellegrini argued.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a problematic teenager
Defense lawyers for Tsarnaev argued he was just a confused teenager, USA Today reported. He comes from a dysfunctional immigrant family and was heavily influenced by his older brother, they said.
According to Deputy Marshal Gary Oliveira who testified in court, “a lot of times people” do the middle finger “to get our attention.”
Defense lawyers said the picture should not be read as anger or defiance displayed against America. Rather, it was an act of a teenager who was probably mad at cell guards.
“Stop characterizing it. The jury can see it and they can make their own decisions,” Judge George O’Toole told Tsarnaev’s attorney Miriam Conrad.
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