BOSTON (CBS) – For the first time ever, a juror in the Boston Marathon bombing trial is talking publicly about the verdict and the death sentence.
This was an interview nearly three months in the making.
Up until now, every single juror – all 12 deliberators and all 6 alternates – have maintained total and complete silence.
I have spoken to several of them off-camera. They all seem confident in the decisions they made, but all of them have concerns about their personal safety.
These are 18 men and women, plucked from their daily lives and asked to see, hear and evaluate some of the most gruesome testimony you could imagine.
It has taken a toll.
And now, one juror – one of those who deliberated and found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty on all counts and then sentenced him to death – is ready to talk.
WHY TALK NOW?
So what’s taken so long?
“For me it’s about taking the time to process what I went through,” Juror 83 said, preferring to keep his image concealed and his name a secret for his own safety. “It took a couple months to do that. Nothing about this trial was easy.”
“Personally, I feel justice was indeed served,” he said.
“Out of a pool of 1,300 or 1,400 people, being one of the ones chosen, that in and of itself is shocking I think, because you have no clue what’s going to happen,” he said.
WATCH: Extended Interview With Juror 83
I asked him about the first day of the trial when defense attorney Judy Clarke said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev did it – what went through his mind?
“It’s quite honest of them,” he said.
“Of course the question is – how much of it was him? I really didn’t know just how much was him or, you know, his brother.”
Their defense was Tamerlan Tsarnaev was the mastermind who led his younger brother around. What did this juror make of that defense?
“In my estimation, again, I personally thought that yes, he did definitely have a hand in the end result of Dzhokhar’s behavior, absolutely.”
THE DEATH SENTENCE
But not enough to save Dzhokhar from a death sentence.
“No, because even though for me that did weigh on my mind, it still doesn’t take away from the reality of what Dzhokhar did,” he said.
“I think still the overall senselessness of the act being carried out, it’s still hard to get over that.”
“How could somebody do this?,” he asked, “And I don’t know if there ever will be an answer.”
But it still took a while to decide on a death sentence.
“Absolutely. Absolutely. There is no quick or easy way, I think, to come to that.”
This man is confident that sentencing Tsarnaev to death was the right thing to do.
“Because in the end, he still – and it’s hard for me to talk, talk about – people died and were severely maimed because of his actions and, as good of a person as he may have been up until that point, as much potential as a person he may have had, he still chose to do what he did.”
‘WE DID WHAT WE HAD TO’
“We did what we had to, did it to the best of our ability, while keeping everybody’s humanities, whether they’re victims or whoever else was involved, in mind,” he said.
When the death sentence was being read, Juror 83 made it a point to look at Tsarnaev.
“I still wanted to see how he would react,” he says. “I think anybody would and I think for me it would be wrong to not give him the… dignity in that regard. I think anybody would deserve that.”
SHOCKED BY TSARNAEV’S APOLOGY
Right before Tsarnaev was sentenced to die, he stood to address the court. His apology surprised everyone, including Juror 83.
“I was shocked,” he said. “I’m pretty sure my stomach kind of dropped. My heart dropped down to my stomach. It was very unexpected.”
“I don’t know how sincere he was,” he continued.
”I can’t be in his mind. I don’t know that. I appreciate the effort. Some people might have said that it was a little bit too late or too little, and I can understand that.”
Juror 83 is the first to speak publicly and the first to write a book. It’s called “Juror 83: The Tsarnaev trial; The 34 days that changed me.”
He says the book is part of his healing. Writing it, along with a family friend, helped him process some of the horrors he saw and heard as a juror.
I asked him if he was aware that some people will criticize him for the book.
“Of course,” he said. “And if there is any weight to their criticisms, and I feel appropriate to address those, then I will. And dispel them the best I can.”
Juror 83 was quick to note that the book tells only his story, from his perspective, and makes no attempt to speak for the other Tsarnaev jurors.
He told us serving as a juror “absolutely” changed his life, and writing about it is his way of documenting those changes.
‘HARD TO APPROACH THAT SUBJECT’
While he stands by his verdict and the sentence, he’s well aware he sentenced a terrorist to die.
“There is no getting away from that. That was an issue that had to be addressed, and for me personally, it was extremely hard to approach that subject. It still is.”
“Of course. Am I overly worried about it or overly angst about it? No, and I hope I don’t ever have to become that way, but I think it’s better to be aware than to be naive,” he said. “I do still feel that we gave the appropriate punishment.”
Would he serve on the jury again?
“If it was my choice and I had a say in it? I probably wouldn’t.”
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is behind bars at the Supermax federal prison in Florence, Colorado, while he appeals his death sentence.
Eventually, he will be transferred to the federal death row in Indiana.
The Middlesex County District Attorney still wants to try him in state court for his role in MIT Police Officer Sean Collier’s murder and the Watertown shootout.
You can follow Jim on Twitter @JimArmstrongWBZ.