The verdict reached Wednesday in the trial of Dzokhar Tsarnaev – guilty on all 30 counts of killing three people and injuring 264 others in the Boston Marathon bombing – came as no surprise to several Mainers who were in or near Copley Square the afternoon of April 15, 2013.

“The real issue,” said South Portland paramedic Matt Cox, “is whether he’s going to be executed for it.”

Cox, 35, is a resident of Wells who was a spectator at the 2013 race and wound up spending three hours performing triage in the medical tent following the blasts. He ran the 2014 Boston Marathon in honor of 8-year-old bombing victim Martin Richard and raised nearly $3,500 for the Martin Richard Foundation.

“I don’t think he can blame any of his own actions on his older brother,” said Cox, referring to the portrayal by defense lawyers of Tamerlan Tsarnaev manipulating his younger brother into setting off two pressure-cooker bombs filled with shrapnel amid a crowd on Boylston Street and, four days later, fatally shooting a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer.

“I personally believe he deserves to be executed for it,” Cox said. “I don’t think he’ll ever be able to function in society. … There seems to be an issue in our society nowadays where we look to blame others for our own actions and situations. You should know that killing innocent people isn’t right.”

The same U.S. District Court jury in Boston that deliberated 11 hours before reaching a guilty verdict will decide whether to sentence him to death or life in prison without possibility of parole on the 17 charges that carry the death penalty.


David Holman, 32, of North Yarmouth is hoping Tsarnaev remains in prison.

Holman was within two miles of the finish when his first attempt at Boston ended in what he described as a surreal and confusing experience.

“I certainly hope that the jury does not give him the death penalty, because I think that would be counterproductive to the point of Rule of Law and of upholding human rights,” said Holman, a Quaker who serves as assistant director of annual giving at Bowdoin College. “We need to show that we have a system of justice that is not based on violence and revenge, but rather on serving justice and protecting society.”

Executing Tsarnaev not only would be the wrong moral choice, Holman said, but a poor tactic in the fight against terrorism as well.

“It would only serve to radicalize others who see him as a martyr,” Holman said. “Whereas, if he’s in a jail cell for life, he will not be a martyr to anyone.”

Alicia Leeman, a 1996 Portland High graduate who works for a pharmaceuticals company next door to the Moakley Courthouse in Boston. She watched the 2013 race from Commonwealth Avenue and ran in the 2014 marathon.


“It’s not really a surprise, because I expected it to be guilty on all counts, but it’s still sort of raw emotion,” said Leeman, 36. “I don’t think that any outcome is going to make people feel any better. For me personally, I just want to put it behind me and move forward.”

Leeman said she wavers in her view of an appropriate fate for the 21-year-old ethnic Chechen who was a college student at UMass-Dartmouth at the time of the bombing.

“Some days I feel like he absolutely committed a crime that deserves the death penalty,” she said. “But then I also think that’s what he wants, to be (viewed as) a martyr.”

Now in training for a marathon in Cincinnati in early May, Leeman said she plans to support friends running this year’s 119th Boston Marathon, scheduled for April 20.

“I might watch from Newton on Heartbreak Hill,” she said. “Before 2013, that was my typical spot. Either way, I’ll probably make my way toward the finish area with my friends and celebrate the day.”

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