BOSTON – The trial of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is winding down after months of testimony about the deadly 2013 attack. Jurors have seen gruesome autopsy photos of the three people killed in the bombings and heard tearful stories from survivors. They've also listened to teachers and family members describe Tsarnaev as a kind, caring child who grew up in a dysfunctional family. Soon, the jury will begin deliberating his punishment: life in prison or the death penalty. Here's what's next in the trial:
Q: What's left before the case is handed over to the jury?
A: Tsarnaev's lawyers are expected to rest their case in the sentencing phase Monday. They told the judge they may call as one of their last witnesses Sister Helen Prejean, a death penalty opponent made famous in the 1995 movie "Dead Man Walking." Prejean is a well-known spiritual adviser who wants to abolish the death penalty. Prosecutors told Judge George O'Toole Jr. they want him to exclude her testimony.
After the defense rests, prosecutors will be allowed to call rebuttal witnesses. After that, Tsarnaev's lawyers and prosecutors will give closing arguments, their last chance to press their case for life or death. The jury will begin deliberations — likely in the middle of next week — after receiving instructions from the judge.
Q: How long could the jury deliberate?
A: There is no way to know how long it will take the jury to make a decision. For Tsarnaev to receive the death penalty, all 12 jurors must agree. If even one juror votes against the death penalty, Tsarnaev will be given a life sentence.
Q: Where would Tsarnaev be incarcerated if he is sentenced to life in prison?
A: Tsarnaev's lawyers have told the jury he would likely be sent to the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado. Known as the ADX, the Supermax prison in the highest-security prison in the country and houses some of the nation's most notorious criminals, including Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Oklahoma City bombing accomplice Terry Nichols, Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph and 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. A prison consultant who testified for the defense said 33 of the 34 terrorists convicted of federal charges were sent to the H Unit at the ADX, where they are locked in their cells 23 hours a day in solitary confinement and have restricted communications, and limited recreation and other privileges.
Prosecutors have told the jury that there's no way to be certain where Tsarnaev would be sent and that restrictions on his communications and other privileges can be eased over time.
Q: Where would Tsarnaev be sent if he is sentenced to death?
A: He could be sent to the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, which has a special unit for death row inmates. He could spend years there while he appeals his sentence. Since the federal death penalty was reinstated in 1988, 74 people have been sentenced to death, but only three have been executed. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons will make the decision on where to send Tsarnaev.