BOSTON (CBS) – The task before the Boston Marathon bombing jury is an immense one, no matter how much both legal teams tried to simplify their cases during Wednesday’s closing arguments.
Prosecutor Steve Mellin told jurors that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was an adult who “made an adult decision that will last forever. And now he must face the consequences. He killed indiscriminately to make a political point. His actions have earned him a sentence of death.”
The prosecution showed photo after photo of Tsarnaev’s victims as they recounted the painful and emotional testimony of their families. Mellin said the 21-year-old has never truly wanted to be a martyr, and has never shown remorse for his crimes.
“A death sentence is not giving him what he wants,” Mellin told jurors. “It is giving him what he deserves.”
“After all the terror, and carnage, and fear that he caused, the right punishment is clear,” Mellin added. “The only sentence that will do justice in this case is a life sentence.”
Mellin also took aim at the defense’s big claim that Dzhkohar’s older brother Tamerlan forced him to bomb the marathon.
“Tamerlan Tsarnaev was not the defendant’s master,” he said. “They were partners in crime and brothers in arms. Both decided they wanted to punish America, in a way that would win them glory and a place in paradise.”
For the defense closing, attorney Judy Clarke said just the opposite.
“The story of Dzhokhar cannot be told without knowing the story of Tamerlan. Dzhokhar would never have done this but for Tamerlan. The tragedy never would have occurred but for Tamerlan. None of it.”
During the defense closing argument, Clarke repeated a common theme, but added a new twist.
“I’m not asking you to excuse him. There are no excuses. I’m not asking you for sympathy,” Clarke said, adding: “Is his a life worth saving? Is there hope for him?”
Clarke urged jurors not to seek the same eye-for-an-eye punishment that prosecutors claim motivated Tsarnaev to put bombs at the finish line in the first place. She admitted that the pain her client caused can’t be undone.
“There’s no punishment–not even a death sentence–that could balance the scales,” she said. “We are asking you to choose life. Yes, even for the Boston Marathon bomber.”
Clarke urged jurors not to be swayed by anger or passion, and to consider the future her client may still have.
“You’re about to make a decision about who he is, who he was, and who he might become.”
The jury deliberated for less than an hour Wednesday afternoon before being sent home for the day. They resume Thursday morning.