The Boston Globe has published a heartbreaking appeal from the parents of Martin Richard, the 8-year-old boy who died in the Boston Marathon bombing. Bill and Denise Richard (who were also injured in the blast, along with their two surviving children) are asking prosecutors to stop seeking the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was recently found guilty of carrying out the attacks with his late brother, Tamerlan. Rather than seeing Tsarnaev killed — and enduring the years of legal maneuvering that generally precede an execution in the United States — the Richards want the 21-year-old sentenced to life in prison “without any possibility of release and waiving all of his rights to appeal.”
From the Richards’s piece in the Globe:
We understand all too well the heinousness and brutality of the crimes committed. We were there. We lived it. The defendant murdered our 8-year-old son, maimed our 7-year-old daughter, and stole part of our soul. We know that the government has its reasons for seeking the death penalty, but the continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives. We hope our two remaining children do not have to grow up with the lingering, painful reminder of what the defendant took from them, which years of appeals would undoubtedly bring.
For us, the story of Marathon Monday 2013 should not be defined by the actions or beliefs of the defendant, but by the resiliency of the human spirit and the rallying cries of this great city. We can never replace what was taken from us, but we can continue to get up every morning and fight another day. As long as the defendant is in the spotlight, we have no choice but to live a story told on his terms, not ours. 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.
In a statement responding to the Richards’s letter, United States attorney for Massachusetts Carmen M. Ortiz said, “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.” The sentencing phase of Tsarnaev’s trial is set to begin next week.