U.S. Attorney Has No Plans to Change Course After Anti-Death Penalty Plea from Marathon Bombing Victim’s Family

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz
U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz –Pat Greenhouse/Boston Globe

A statement from U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz says she is “aware’’ of the anti death penalty views of the parents of 8-year-old Boston Marathon bombing victim Martin Richard, but that “many have strong views’’ on how best to move forward.

“I have spoken with Bill and Denise Richard many times since the beginning of the case and I am aware of their views,’’ Ortiz wrote. “Many have strong views about the best way to proceed. Those views have been heard and have played a role — and continue to play a role — in the Department of Justice’s handling of this case.’’

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Yesterday, Richard’s parents wrote an essay in which they urged prosecutors to seek a life sentence against Tsarnaev instead of the death penalty.

“As long as the defendant is in the spotlight, we have no choice but to live a story told on his terms, not ours,’’ Bill and Denise Richard wrote in an essay published in The Boston Globe. “The minute the defendant fades from our newspapers and TV screens is the minute we begin the process of rebuilding our lives and our family.’’

Christina Sterling, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, confirmed to Boston.com that there are no plans to adjust the prosecution’s strategy as the result of the Richard family’s plea.

Martin Richard was the youngest victim of the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. His younger sister, Jane, lost a leg in the attack, and his brother, Henry, was also injured, though less seriously. Both Denise and Bill Richard were also wounded.

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s full statement:

“I have spoken with Bill and Denise Richard many times since the beginning of the case and I am aware of their views. My relationship with them, and with all of the victims and survivors, is very important to me. Over the past two years, I have heard from scores of survivors and victims about their feelings regarding this case. Many have strong views about the best way to proceed. Those views have been heard and have played a role — and continue to play a role — in the Department of Justice’s handling of this case. The attorneys in a criminal case are legally bound to keep many matters relating to the case confidential, even from the people most affected by the crimes. I therefore cannot comment on the specifics of the statement. But as I have previously assured both Bill and Denise, I care deeply about their views and the views of the other victims and survivors. As the case moves forward we will continue to do all we can to protect and vindicate those injured and those who have passed away.’’

On April 8, Tsarnaev was convicted on all 30 counts against him, including being responsible for the death of Martin Richard. The penalty phase of the trial, where the jury will decide whether Tsarnaev will be sentenced to death or live the rest of his life in prison, is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

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Read the full essay written by Bill and Denise Richard.

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