Deliberations were set to begin yesterday morning, almost two years after twin bombs exploded near the marathon’s finishing line on 15 April, 2013, killing three people and wounding more than 260.
During closing arguments on Monday, defence lawyers agreed with prosecutors that Mr Tsarnaev conspired with his brother to bomb the marathon and planted one of two pressure-cooker bombs that exploded that day in the Massachusetts capital.
But the defence said it was his now-dead older brother, Tamerlan, who masterminded the attack. It was Tamerlan who bought the bomb parts, built the bombs and planned the attack, said defence attorney Judy Clarke. “If not for Tamerlan, it would not have happened,” Ms Clarke said.
A prosecutor told the jury that Mr Tsarnaev made a cold-blooded decision with the intention of punishing the United States for its wars in Muslim countries.
“This was a cold, calculated terrorist act. This was intentional. It was bloodthirsty. It was to make a point,” prosecutor Aloke Chakravarty said. “It was to tell America that ‘We will not be terrorised by you anymore. We will terrorise you.’”
Ms Clarke argued Tsarnaev fell under the influence of his elder brother Tamerlan. Ms Clarke repeatedly referred to Dzhokhar, aged 19 at the time of the attack, as a “kid” and “teenager.”
Prosecutors used their closing statements to remind the jury of the horror of that day, showing photographs of the aftermath of the bombing and a video of the carnage and chaos after the shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs exploded. In one video, jurors could hear the screams of Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant manager who bled to death on the pavement. Another woman and an eight-year-old boy were also killed.
Taking aim at the argument that Tsarnaev was led astray by his older brother, Mr Chakravarty referred to the brothers as “a team” and “partners” working together in the marathon attack.
“That day, they felt they were soldiers. They were the mujahideen, and they were bringing their battle to Boston,” the prosecutor said.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died four days after the bombings. He was shot by police and run over by Dzhokhar as he tried to make his getaway. Dzhokhar was captured hours later hiding in a dry-docked boat.
If Tsarnaev is convicted – and that is considered a near certainty, given his lawyer’s admission – the jury will then begin hearing evidence on whether he should get life in prison or be sentenced to death in the federal case.