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Sense of relief for some survivors, but little peace

David L Ryan/Globe Staff

Liz Norden was comforted by first responder Mike Ward.

By and Globe Staff 

There was deep relief, and there was angst.

A federal jury’s dramatic decision Friday to sentence Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death sparked mixed feelings among the survivors, emergency personnel, and others who experienced the horror unleashed when two homemade pressure-cooker bombs detonated near the finish line of the world-renowned race on April 15, 2013.

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Sydney Corcoran was seriously injured in the blasts, along with her mother, Celeste, who lost both legs. After the verdict, Sydney turned to social media.

“My mother and I think that NOW he will go away and we will be able to move on. Justice,’’ Sydney Corcoran wrote on her Twitter account. “In his own words, ‘an eye for an eye.’ ”

Heather Abbott, who lost her left leg below the knee after the second bomb exploded on Boylston Street, was driving alone when she heard the news. She later wrote on her foundation’s Facebook page that the verdict “doesn’t bring me peace.”

“It brings sadness and cause to reflect, again, on just how senseless all of the deaths and injuries resulting from this situation are,” she wrote.

William Campbell, whose daughter Krystle was killed in the explosions, was pleased with the jury’s decision.

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“I think the system worked and the jury did their job,” he said. “I hope this decision will be a deterrent, to keep our young kids from going over to join ISIS, because they’ll know they’re going to pay for it.”

Campbell said he hopes the trial’s end will bring some peace to the families that still suffer, and to the amputees who face their losses daily.

“I pray to God it will,” he said. But for Campbell, peace remains elusive. “No,” he said, “that won’t come for some time. . . We loved Krystle so dearly.”

Rebekah Gregory DiMartino lost a limb in the attacks and tried to run the Marathon this year on a prosthetic leg. On Friday, she said on Facebook that she was “completely numb.’’

“Waiting anxiously for the day all this is really over,’’ wrote DiMartino, who was able to run just 3.2 miles of the Marathon last month because her leg is still healing. “My heart and prayers are with my Boylston Street family.’’

Corcoran family react to Tsarnaev verdict

Adrianne Haslet-Davis, who was with her husband, Adam Davis, at the finish line, applauded the death sentence on her Twitter account.

“My heart is with our entire survivor community,’’ wrote Haslet-Davis, a dancer who lost her left leg below the knee in the bombings. “I am thrilled with the verdict!”

Haslet-Davis testified during the trial that not only had she been injured, but her husband, an Air Force veteran, has sought in-patient mental health counseling through the Veterans Administration since the bombings.

Standing outside US District Court in Boston, where she faithfully attended the Tsarnaev trial, Liz Norden, whose two adult sons each lost a leg, said she was reminded of the bombings every day.

“There are no winners today, but I feel justice for my family,’’ Norden said. “I have to watch my two sons put on a leg every day. So I don’t know about closure. But I can tell you it feels like a weight has been pulled off my shoulders.’’

One of the first responders as an off-duty firefighter at the bombings site, Michael Ward said, “I remember the vile, disgusting thing that this person and his brother did. They destroyed countless innocent lives.’’

Ward called the jury’s decision in favor of the death sentence for Tsarnaev “nothing to celebrate. This is a matter of justice.’’

In a strong voice, he added, “He wanted to go hell — he is going to get there early.’’

Karen Brassard was one of the spectators at the race who were badly injured by shrapnel, and she was thankful to the jury Friday for enduring the horrific testimony and for their verdict.

“My family will be praying for them to heal through all of this,’’ she said of the jurors, who had to listen to emotional testimony and view gruesome crime scene and autopsy photographs of the four who died, the 17 who lost limbs, and some of the more than 200 others who were injured.

Brassard and others said they were aware that the Tsarnaev death sentence would be appealed, and that he would not be executed any time soon.

“I know there is a long road ahead,’’ Brassard said. “But right now it feels like we can take a breath and actually breathe again.’’

She and others said they had no desire to celebrate the verdict.

“There is nothing happy about taking a life,’’ she said. “But I think it was a just conclusion.’’

MBTA Transit Police Officer Richard Donohue suffered life-threatening injuries in Watertown during the furious firefight that ended with the death of Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan. Donohue was promoted to sergeant on Friday.

“Just over two years after the events that impacted us as a community and a nation, we can finally close this chapter in our lives,’’ he said in a statement issued through the Transit Police Department.

“The verdict, undoubtedly a difficult decision for the jury, gives me relief and closure as well as the ability to keep moving forward.”

Laurie Scher, a volunteer in the medical tent for Boston Marathon runners, and who witnessed much of the carnage when it was turned into a triage center for the bombing victims, said that the death sentence did not generate any feelings of relief for her.

Asked about the defense witnesses who described Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as a bright boy who grew into a compassionate young man, she said, “I have no doubt that at one time he was a loving, caring young man. But we know he turned into a monster.

“Why that happened we will never know.’’


Jenna Russell of the Globe staff contributed to this report David Abel can be reached at dabel@globe.com
Follow him on Twitter @davabel.

John R Ellement can be reached at ellement@ globe.com
Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.