BOSTON — After slouching through his trial for months with a bored look on his face, the defendant was ordered to rise.

For close to half an hour, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was on his feet, fidgeting as he listened to the reading of a 24-page worksheet in which a jury dismantled, piece by piece, any hope he had of mercy.

By page 21, his fate was clear: death by injection.

In the nation’s most closely watched terrorism trial since the Oklahoma City bombing, the 21-year-old Tsarnaev was sentenced to death Friday by a federal jury that swept aside arguments he was just a “kid” who fell under the influence of his fanatical older brother.

The decision – which came just over two years after the April 15, 2013 bombing that killed three people and wounded more than 260 – brought relief and grim satisfaction to many in Boston.

“We can breathe again,” said Karen Brassard, who suffered shrapnel wounds to her legs.

The death sentence sets the stage for what could be the nation’s first execution of a terrorist in the post-9/11 era, although the case is likely to go through years of appeals.

In the meantime, Tsarnaev will probably be sent to death row at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, where Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh was put to death in 2001.

A somber-looking Tsarnaev stood with his hands folded, his head slightly bowed, as he learned his fate, sealed after 14 hours of deliberations over three days. His attorneys left court without comment.

His father, Anzor Tsarnaev, reached by phone in the Russian region of Dagestan, let out a deep moan upon hearing the news and hung up.

The 12-member federal jury had to be unanimous for Tsarnaev to get the death penalty. Otherwise, the former college student would have automatically received life in prison with no chance of parole.

In weighing the arguments for and against death, the jurors decided among other things that Tsarnaev showed a lack of remorse. And they emphatically rejected the defense’s central argument – that he was led down the path to terrorism by his big brother.

EQUAL PARTNER IN THE ATTACK

The attack and the ensuing manhunt paralyzed the city for days and cast a pall over the marathon – normally one of Boston’s proudest, most exciting moments – that has yet to be lifted. With Friday’s decision, community leaders and others talked of closure, of resilience, of the city’s Boston Strong spirit.

Tsarnaev was convicted last month of all 30 charges against him, including use of a weapon of mass destruction, for joining his now-dead brother, Tamerlan, in setting off two shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs near the finish line of the race. Tsarnaev was also found guilty in the killing of an MIT police officer during the getaway.

Seventeen of the charges carried the possibility of a death sentence; ultimately, the jury gave him the death penalty on six of those counts.

Tsarnaev’s chief attorney, death penalty specialist Judy Clarke, admitted at the start of the trial that he participated in the bombings.

But Clarke argued that Dzhokhar was an impressionable 19-year-old led astray by his domineering 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan. The defense portrayed Tamerlan as the mastermind of the plot to punish the United States for its wars in Muslim countries.

Tamerlan died days after the bombing when he was shot by police and run over by Dzhokhar during a chaotic getaway attempt.

Prosecutors depicted Dzhokhar as an equal partner in the attack, saying he was so coldhearted he planted a bomb on the pavement behind a group of children, killing an 8-year-old boy.

To drive home their point, prosecutors cited the message he scrawled in the dry-docked boat where he was captured: “Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop.”

And they opened their case in the penalty phase with a startling photo of him giving the finger to a security camera in his jail cell months after his arrest.

“This is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – unconcerned, unrepentant and unchanged,” prosecutor Nadine Pellegrin said.

The jurors also heard grisly and heartbreaking testimony from numerous bombing survivors, who described seeing their legs blown off or watching someone next to them die.

Killed in the bombing were Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old Boston University graduate student from China; Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant manager; and 8-year-old Martin Richard, who had gone to watch the marathon with his family.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology police Officer Sean Collier was gunned down in his cruiser days later. Seventeen people lost legs in the bombings.

“Now he will go away and we will be able to move on. Justice. In his own words, ‘an eye for an eye,’” said bombing victim Sydney Corcoran, who nearly bled to death and whose mother lost both legs.


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