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Parents of Boy Killed in Boston Marathon Want Tsarnaev’s Life Spared


John Burger - published on 04/17/15 - updated on 06/07/17

Mother and father of Martin Richards believe appeals process will keep wounds fresh for them

The mother of the convicted Boston marathon bomber said that Americans are the "real terrorists." The mother of his youngest victim said it’s time to move on.

In an opinion piece for the Boston Globe, Bill and Denise Richards have asked that their son’s killer’s life be spared. 

"Now that the tireless and committed prosecution team has ensured that justice will be served, we urge the Department of Justice to bring the case to a close. We are in favor of and would support the Department of Justice in taking the death penalty off the table in exchange for the defendant spending the rest of his life in prison without any possibility of release and waiving all of his rights to appeal," the couple wrote.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, planted two bombs that went off within 12 seconds of each other at the finish line of the Boston Marathon April 15, 2013. The explosions killed the Richards’ 8-year-old son, Martin, and maimed their 7-year-old daughter, Jane. Two others were killed and more 200 people wounded.

"We know that the government has its reasons for seeking the death penalty, but the continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives. We hope our two remaining children do not have to grow up with the lingering, painful reminder of what the defendant took from them, which years of appeals would undoubtedly bring," the Richards wrote. 

For us, the story of Marathon Monday 2013 should not be defined by the actions or beliefs of the defendant, but by the resiliency of the human spirit and the rallying cries of this great city. We can never replace what was taken from us, but we can continue to get up every morning and fight another day. As long as the defendant is in the spotlight, we have no choice but to live a story told on his terms, not ours. The minute the defendant fades from our newspapers and TV screens is the minute we begin the process of rebuilding our lives and our family.

A jury last week found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, guilty on all 30 counts stemming from the bombing. That included 17 counts that make him eligible for the death penalty. Jurors enter the penalty phase of the trial Tuesday, a day after this year’s marathon.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was 26, was killed during a shootout with police. 

During the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Catholic bishops of the state of Massachusetts came out with a statement urging the jury not to impose the death penalty. 

A Catholic News Service article from 2013 said the Richards family was described in local publications as "well-known and very involved in their community, in children’s sports leagues, local redevelopment and their church, St. Ann Parish Neponset, in the Dorchester section of Boston." The article noted:

A widely circulated photo of Martin shows him in a white suit and tie, with a gap-tooth grin, holding what apparently is a banner made for his first Communion last year. It has his name, a chalice, a loaf of bread and other symbols of the Eucharist.

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