Federal prosecutors Thursday announced they will seek the death penalty against 20-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the Boston Marathon bombing, instantly raising the stakes in what could be one of the most wrenching trials the city has ever seen.
Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to press for Tsarnaev's execution was widely expected. The twin blasts killed three people and wounded more than 260 others, and 17 of the 30 federal charges against him -- including using a weapon of mass destruction to kill -- carry the possibility of the death penalty.
"The nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm compel this decision," Holder said in a statement that consisted of just two terse and dispassionate sentences.
Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty. No trial date has been set.
In a notice of intent filed in court, federal prosecutors in Boston listed factors they contend justify a sentence of death, including his "betrayal" of the U.S., where he had lived since moving from Russia about a decade ago.
"Dzhokhar Tsarnaev received asylum from the United States; obtained citizenship and enjoyed the freedoms of a United States citizen; and then betrayed his allegiance to the United States by killing and maiming people in the United States," read the notice filed by U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz.
Prosecutors also cited Tsarnaev's "lack of remorse" and allegations that he killed an MIT police officer as well as an 8-year-old boy, a "particularly vulnerable" victim because of his age. They also said Tsarnaev committed the killings after "substantial planning and premeditation."
Tsarnaev's lawyers had no immediate comment.