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Survivors speak out on death penalty in Tsarnaev trial

Clockwise from top left: Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky, Karen and John Odom, Kevin Corcoran, Marc Fucarile, Bill and Denise Richard, and Liz Norden.Globe staff and file photos

As jurors consider whether Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be put to death for his role in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, several victims have shared their opinions.

Some worry that the imposition of the federal government’s most extreme punishment could set off a string of appeals that could keep attention on Tsarnaev for years. Others say that allowing him to live could deny closure to those he hurt.

Here are some of the statements made by bombing victims since Tsarnaev’s conviction.

Bill and Denise Richard

The parents of Martin Richard, who was 8 years old when he was killed by a bomb detonated by Tsarnaev, wrote a public letter to urge the government to drop its pursuit of the death penalty.


The Richards, whose daughter, Jane, lost a leg in the bombing, said they would prefer to see Tsarnaev “spending the rest of his life in prison without any possibility of release and waiving all of his rights to appeal.”

“This is a deeply personal issue and we can speak only for ourselves. However, it is clear that peace of mind was taken not just from us, but from all Americans,” Bill and Denise Richard wrote. “We honor those who were lost and wish continued strength for all those who were injured. We believe that now is the time to turn the page, end the anguish, and look toward a better future — for us, for Boston, and for the country.”

READ MORE: The Richards in their own words

Jennifer L. Lemmerman

The sister of Sean A. Collier, the MIT police officer who was shot to death while he sat in his patrol car a few nights after the bombing, wrote on Facebook and Twitter that she will never forgive Tsarnaev for ending her brother’s life.

But Lemmerman also wrote that she does not believe in the death penalty, even for Tsarnaev.


“Whenever someone speaks out against the death penalty, they are challenged to imagine how they would feel if someone they love were killed. I’ve been given that horrible perspective and I can say that my position has only strengthened,’” she wrote.

READ MORE: Sister of Collier opposes death penalty

Kevin Corcoran

Corcoran, whose wife, Celeste, lost both legs and whose daughter, Sydney, was seriously injured said he does not believe that a life sentence would spare any pain for Tsarnaev’s victims.

“If he’s dead, no matter how long it takes, end of story,” Kevin Corcoran said. “We don’t want him to be able to communicate and possibly influence anyone. In 20 years, someone might interview him. He could write a book, etc.”

Celeste Corcoran is testifying in court Tuesday.

READ MORE: Richards’ plea raises complex issues

Karen and John Odom

Karen Odom said she and her husband, John, who had arteries in his legs severed by shrapnel in the bombing, have their own reason for supporting a sentence of life in prison for Tsarnaev.

“We want to see him rot in prison the rest of his life,” she said. “We’re not against the death penalty; we just think the death penalty is too good for him. We’d rather see him in jail forever.”

Marc Fucarile

Fucarile, who lost much of his right leg in the second blast, said he has mixed feelings.

“I think there are pros and cons about both a life sentence and a death sentence,” he said. “My thoughts change constantly. They really do.”


Liz Norden

On the day that Tsarnaev was found guilty, Liz Norden, whose sons each lost a leg in the bombing, called for the death penalty.

Norden said, “I want to see justice for my boys.”

The newlyweds, who each lost a limb in the explosions, say they would prefer Tsarnaev serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.

That outcome, they said, would keep Tsarnaev from doing any further harm while “assuring that he disappears from our collective consciousness as soon as possible.”

“In our darkest moments and deepest sadness, we think of inflicting the same types of harm on him,” they said in a joint statement.

“We wish that he could feel the searing pain and terror that four beautiful souls felt before their death, as well as the harsh reality of discovering mutilated or missing legs. If there is anyone who deserves the ultimate punishment, it is the defendant. However, we must overcome the impulse for vengeance.”

READ MORE: Couple who lost limbs opposes death penalty

John R. Ellement, Michael Levenson, Milton J. Valencia, Brian MacQuarrie, Eric Moskowitz, and Kay Lazar contributed to this article. Andy Rosen can be reached at andrew.rosen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @andyrosen.