BOSTON (AP) – Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev apologized for the deadly attack for the first time Wednesday just before a judge was set to formally sentence him to death.
“I am sorry for the lives that I’ve taken, for the suffering that I’ve caused you, for the damage that I’ve done – irreparable damage,” the 21-year-old college student said, breaking more than two years of public silence.
To the victims, he said: “I pray for your relief, for your healing.”
It was a five-minute address peppered with religious references and praise of Allah. He paused several times, looking as if he was trying to remain composed.
He stood and faced the judge while speaking, but spoke of the victims.
The apology came after Tsarnaev listened impassively for about three hours as a procession of victims and their loved ones lashed out at him for his “cowardly” and “disgusting” acts.
“He can’t possibly have had a soul to do such a horrible thing,” said Karen Rand McWatters, who lost a leg in the attack and whose best friend, 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, was killed.
Campbell’s mother, Patricia Campbell, was the first person to address the court. She looked across the room at Tsarnaev, seated about 20 feet away, and spoke directly to him.
“What you did to my daughter is disgusting,” she said. “I don’t know what to say to you. I think the jury did the right thing.”
Twenty-four people in all gave so-called victim impact statements at the sentencing in federal court.
The outcome was a foregone conclusion: U.S. District Judge George O’Toole Jr. was required under law to impose the jury’s death sentence for the April 15, 2013, attack that killed three people and wounded more than 260.
The only real suspense was whether Tsarnaev would say anything when given a chance to speak near the end of the proceedings.
Until Wednesday, has said almost nothing publicly since his arrest more than two years ago, offering neither remorse nor explanation.