The Boston bombing trial: what everyone should know

Steven Hughes, Writer

Everyone remembers the bombings at the Boston Marathon back in Spring 2013. The tragedy of that day, and the shock of such a brutal domestic terror strike has not (and will not) be forgotten. However, this month more than others we have reason to reflect on the pain caused that day. The trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving member of the two-man terror plot, began on  January 30th, and the jury is presently being selected. As this highly-charged case begins, it is important to consider all the circumstances surrounding the incident, especially given the Justice Department’s announcement that it would pursue the death-penalty.

The two purpetrators, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were born into a strong Muslim family, but it is important to acknowledge the family’s rejection of extremist beliefs. In 2007, after settling in Cambridge, Massachussetts, the Tsarnaevs were granted legal permanent residence. These were not socially strange, reclusive people; Dzhokhar’s father worked as a mechanic, and his mother worked as a cosmetologist.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev himself was described as anything but violent in his high school years, and was a highly accomplished, likable student. After graduating he began school in hopes of becoming a dentist. It was around this time he and his brother Tamerlan reconnected after having self-radicalized over the past years.

The two began to plan, and constructed three “pressure-cooker” bombs, instructions for which they found in an Al-Qaeda affiliated online magazine called Inspire.

The two planted these bombs in the spectator sidelines near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. Of the three, two detonated, approximately 12 seconds apart. Six spectators were killed, and over 260 were injured.

Following the bombings, the brothers separated. Dzhokhar returned to his dorm room, partied with his friends and tweeted about the incident.

Three days after the bombing, the two brothers hijacked an SUV, and were pursued by police. In the resulting shootout, Dzhokhar was seriously injured, and Tamerlan was killed. Dzhokhar then fled, and was caught that evening, hiding in a Watertown, Massachusetts resident’s boat.

Since that day, Dzhokhar has been held, and the US Justice Department has expressed intent to pursue the death penalty.

Regardless of people’s stance on this form of punishment, it cannot be considered without full understanding of the reality surrounding this case.  In truth, this was a bright, pleasant kid, that grew up in an American High school, with American dreams and upstanding values, who foolishly was lead astray by pressure from others to the depths of human cruelty. Anyone who wants to develop an opinion in this case must not view this individual simply as an extremist Muslim, but as a complex and dynamic human being.

With that in mind, all must keep in mind that this is a young man, that was no more than a boy when he was indoctrinated. He is not a purely evil, nor is anyone else. What he did, that was evil. He must face the consequences for his crime, even if it means a life-long prison sentence. However, in no way does the execution of a poorly taught, overly zealous boy make anything right.

As of today, jurors for his trial are still being determined, from a pool of 1,350 potentials. Tsarnaev has been assigned an attorney as he cannot afford his own. He has been charged with over thirty counts against him included using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death. His mother continues to assert that both Dzhokhar and Tamerlan were set up and falsely accused by authorities.

No matter the sentence, murder will never solve murder, and death can’t be made up by more death. A more appropriate service would be to serve time, and assist in reparations for the pain he brought into the world. People must grow to realize that these sorts of attacks are only the symptom of the problem that the whole world faces. The true conflict is ideological, and must be solved with efforts to grow in understanding and respect for others we share this world with.