The jurors in the trial of Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, completed their first full day of deliberations without reaching a decision on whether the 21-year-old would be sentenced to death or to life in prison for the deadly 2013 attack.
The panel of seven women and five men deliberated for almost 9 hours on Wednesday and Thursday without reaching a final verdict.
The same 12 jurors tried to decide a sentence, working through a complex 24-page verdict slip meant to guide their decision making a list of aggravating and mitigating factors reprising the trial’s key themes.
The prosecutor said in a heated argument a day before the trial Tsarnaev, 21, should be sentenced to death.
Citing a note that Tsarnaev wrote while hiding in a boat, bleeding, after a gunfight with police four days after the April 15, 2013, attack, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Mellin said the ethnic Chechen had turned against his adopted country.
The same jury last month convicted Tsarnaev of killing three people and injuring almost 300 people in one of the highest-profile attacks on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.
Tsarnaev was convicted of murdering 8-year-old Martin Richard, 23-year-old Chinese graduate student Lingzi Lu, 29-year-old restaurant manager Krystle Campbell and Massachusetts Institute of Technology policeman Sean Collier.
The key issue standing out in the trial is “aiding and abetting”, since Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been found guilty both of directly killing people by placing the bomb that killed Richard and Lu, as well as of causing Campbell’s death with a bomb that his brother Tamerlan had planted.
U.S. District Judge George O'Toole told the jurors to consider whether Dzhokhar intended to kill people.
He instructed them that their decision "must be based on Mr. Tsarnaev's personal actions and intent, and not on the actions and intent of anyone else."
Defense lawyers contend that Tsarnaev was an adrift teenager under the spell of his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan, who they contend was mainly responsible for the bombing and murder three days after of a police officer.
They also noted that when Dzhokhar's parents returned to their native Russia in 2012, he was left under the influence of Tamerlan, who had become obsessed with becoming a militant. Tamerlan also returned to Russia.
If the jury believes that he deserves death for his role in the 2013 terrorist attack then he will be sentenced to execution by a lethal injection. However, if any member of the jury stands up against the death penalty Tsarnaev will spend the rest of his life in a maximum security prison.