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Victims will speak at Boston bomber’s formal sentencing

Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev late next month will confront people who lost limbs and loved ones in the deadly 2013 attack when he is scheduled to be formally sentenced to death for his crimes, a judge said on Thursday.

The same federal jury that found Tsarnaev, 21, guilty of killing three people and injuring 264 in one of the highest-profile attacks on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001, last month voted to sentence him to death. U.S. District Judge George O’Toole will formally hand down the sentence on June 24.

Tsarnaev’s trial evoked memories of the darkest days in recent memory in Boston as victims testified of being hurled through the air by the twin pressure-cooker bombs, struggling to save the lives of those who had lost limbs amid screams of pain and fears that additional explosions would follow.

Survivors of the attack and family members of the three people who died in the bombing, as well as the family of a university police officer who was shot to death three days later, will have an opportunity to speak at the sentencing.

Martin Richard, 8, 23-year-old Chinese exchange student Lingzi Lu and 29-year-old restaurant manager Krystle Campbell were killed in the attack. Tsarnaev was also convicted in the slaying of Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, 26.

Tsarnaev, who did not testify in his own defense during the guilt or sentencing phases of his trial, will also have the right to speak, though he is under no obligation to do so.

Defense attorneys, who are expected to appeal the death sentence and conviction, argued that Tsarnaev was the junior partner in a scheme hatched and driven forward by his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan, who died four days after the bombing following a gunfight with police that ended when Dzhokhar inadvertently ran his brother over with a stolen car.

Just three of the 74 people sentenced to death in the United States for federal crimes since 1988 have been executed. The first was Timothy McVeigh, put to death in June 2001 for killing 168 people in his 1995 attack on the federal government office building in Oklahoma City.

No federal prisoners have been put to death since 2003.

Several court cases related to the bombing are due to draw to a close over the next month. Three college friends of Tsarnaev who were found guilty of impeding the investigation into the attack are due to be sentenced next week.

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