Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's lawyers pleaded with a jury today to spare his life, portraying him as "a good kid" led down the path to terrorism by his increasingly fanatical older brother. During the defense's opening statement of the penalty stage of Tsarnaev's trial, attorney David Bruck said there's no punishment Tsarnaev can get that would equal the suffering of the bombing victims. "There is no evening the scales," Bruck said. "There is no point in trying to hurt him as he hurt because it can't be done." Tsarnaev, 21, was convicted earlier this month in the twin bombings that killed three spectators and wounded more than 260 other people near the marathon's finish line on April 15, 2013. He was also found guilty of killing an MIT police officer during the Tsarnaev brothers' getaway attempt. This stage of the trial will determine whether he is executed or spends the rest of his life behind bars.
Bruck focused heavily on Tsarnaev's now-dead older brother, Tamerlan, depicting him as a volatile figure who led the plot. He said Tamerlan was "consumed by jihad" and had "power" over an admiring Dzhokhar. Bruck said Tamerlan was loud and aggressive, got into fights, and never held a steady job, while Dzhokhar was a good student in high school, was loved by his teachers there, and never got in trouble. "He was a good kid," the lawyer said, adding Dzhokhar started going downhill in college when his parents divorced and returned to Russia, and he was left with Tamerlan as the de facto head of the family. Bruck said the bombing would not have taken place if Tamerlan hadn't led the way. Prosecutors last week painted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an unrepentant killer, showing the jury a photo of him giving the finger to the security camera in his jail cell three months after his arrest. Bruck downplayed the gesture, saying Tsarnaev was just "acting like an immature 19-year-old."