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article imageBoston bombing death penalty deliberation begins third day

By AFP     May 15, 2015 in World

A jury began deliberations for a third day Friday on whether to sentence Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death or to life imprisonment for perpetrating one of the bloodiest assaults in America since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The 12-strong panel, who last month convicted the 21-year-old of Chechen descent on all charges relating to the April 15, 2013 bombings, must reach a unanimous verdict if they are to sentence him to death.

Judge George O'Toole sent them back to the jury room shortly after 8:30 am (1230 GMT) to continue their deliberations, which have already stretched eight and a half hours across Wednesday and Thursday.

Three people were killed and 264 others wounded, including 17 who lost limbs, in the twin blasts near the finish line at the northeastern city's popular marathon.

Government prosecutors say Tsarnaev is a remorseless terrorist who deserves to die for inflicting carnage. The defense says he is a "lost kid," manipulated into the "heinous crime" by his radical older brother.

Jurors are poring over a 24-page, eight-part verdict form that requires each to weigh aggravating and mitigating factors.

On Thursday they sent notes asking two questions relating to the second and third sections of the jury form.

They can decide unanimously to sentence him to death on all 17 convictions that carry the death penalty; sentence him to death only on some counts; sentence him to life unanimously; or conclude they cannot reach a unanimous verdict.

The defense disputed little evidence against Tsarnaev, but deployed dozens of witnesses in an attempt to save him from the death penalty by portraying older brother Tamerlan as the real culprit.

Tamerlan, 26, was shot dead by police while on the run. Government prosecutors insist that the younger Tsarnaev brother acted of his own free will as an adult.

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