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'He Chose Hate': What Was Said In Tsarnaev Victim Impact Statements

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One by one survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing and victims’ family members came forward to address Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at his formal sentencing hearing Wednesday.

Twenty-four people gave victim impact statements, offering a mix of emotions including anger, sorrow, sadness as well as hope and forgiveness.

Here are some key moments from the victim impact statements:

“A coward in the strongest sense of the word.”

There were plenty of harsh words for Tsarnaev. Slain MIT Officer Sean Collier’s sister spoke about the emotional experience of trying to grieve and going through the trial. She said Tsarnaev hid behind his dead brother.

Elizabeth Bourgault, who was injured in the bombing, called Tsarnaev “a coward in the strongest sense of the word,” then added:

Jeanne-Marie Parker, who was at Boylston Street's Forum restaurant on the day of the bombing, said she hoped Tsarnaev owned all the anguish and grief he has caused for the rest of his life.

"He chose hate. He chose destruction. He chose death."

Some spoke about how Tsarnaev could have chosen not to carry out the bombing. Victim Krystle Campbell’s mother, Patricia, called Tsarnaev’s choices “despicable” and said he could have chosen not to go “down the wrong road.”

Bill Richard, the father of the youngest bombing victim, 8-year-old Martin Richard, said Tsarnaev could have stopped his brother and would have no reconciliation until he understands what he did.

"Why didn't we see any remorse in court?"

Throughout the months-long trial, much was said about whether or not Tsarnaev was remorseful. In the penalty phase of the trial, a nun testified for the defense that Tsarnaev had shown her remorse for the bombing.

On Wednesday, Karen Rand McWatters, who attended the marathon with Krystle Campbell and was injured in the bombing, challenged Tsarnaev to show remorse. (Later, after the victim impact statements, Tsarnaev spoke and apologized to the victims.)

Bombing survivor Rebekah Gregory also said she saw no remorse from Tsarnaev and said his actions have made her and others stronger.

"I've missed out on special moments."

Several of those who gave statements Tuesday also used the opportunity to discuss the hardships they have faced over the past two years.

Stephanie Benz, who was injured in the second blast, said the bombing has impacted her relationships.

Carol Downing, who was near the finish line around the time of the bombing, said she has felt guilty for taking her children to the finish line.

Scott Weisberg, a doctor from Alabama, spoke about how the bombing has caused him several medical and personal problems.

"Good will always conquer evil."

Along with the raw emotion and anger expressed during the hearing, some people also spoke of forgiveness and hope for Tsarnaev.

Henry Bogard, who was injured as he walked home from work around the time of the bombing, said he found a way to forgive Tsarnaev "despite all that he did to me."

Johanna Hantel, who ran the 2013 Boston Marathon and was near the first bomb, said she did not get closure from the trial but hopes Tsarnaev does something good.

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Zeninjor Enwemeka Twitter Reporter
Zeninjor Enwemeka is a reporter who covers business, tech and culture as part of WBUR's Bostonomix team, which focuses on the innovation economy.

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