Bill and Denise Richard, parents of 8-year-old Boston Marathon bombing victim Martin Richard, appealed to prosecutors Friday to rule out a death sentence for convicted murder defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. In a front-page editorial in the Boston Globe, the couple asked that "to end the anguish, drop the death penalty." Tsarnaev was found guilty last week on all 30 federal charges related to the bombing, and court is scheduled to resume Tuesday for sentencing.
"Now that the tireless and committed prosecution team has ensured that justice will be served, we urge the Department of Justice to bring the case to a close," the Richards wrote. "We are in favor of and would support the Department of Justice in taking the death penalty off the table in exchange for the defendant spending the rest of his life in prison without any possibility of release and waiving all of his rights to appeal."
They said they understand the brutality of the crimes that Tsarnaev, 21, and his late brother, Tamerlan, committed out of Islamist extremism. The bombs the pair set off at the 2013 Boston Marathon killed three people and injured more than 260 others. Among them was the Richards' 7-year-old daughter, Jane, who lost a leg. Bill Richard testified about the explosions and his children's injuries at the trial last month, driving jurors to tears, CNN reported.
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Massachusetts outlawed the death penalty in 1984, but Tsarnaev's case is a federal one. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called for the sentence in January 2014, writing in a statement that "the nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm compel this decision," the Washington Times reported.
The Richards said they fear Tsarnaev -- whom they never name in the editorial -- would appeal a death sentence. They said that process would prolong their pain for years. "For us, the story of Marathon Monday 2013 should not be defined by the actions or beliefs of the defendant, but by the resiliency of the human spirit and the rallying cries of this great city," they said. "As long as the defendant is in the spotlight, we have no choice but to live a story told on his terms, not ours. The minute the defendant fades from our newspapers and TV screens is the minute we begin the process of rebuilding our lives and our family."
The city may feel the same way. A WBUR poll of 509 Boston-area residents found Thursday that only 31 percent support putting Tsarnaev to death. About 58 percent wanted to see him go to prison for life.