Friday 2 December 2016

Woman who lost her legs in Boston Marathon bombing recalls being thrown into the air after the first bomb exploded

Published 21/04/2015 | 17:54

The jury will decide whether 21-year-old Tsarnaev should get the death penalty or life in prison. Reuters/FBI/Handout
The jury will decide whether 21-year-old Tsarnaev should get the death penalty or life in prison. Reuters/FBI/Handout

A woman who lost her legs in the Boston Marathon bombing has recalled being thrown into the air and landing hard on the pavement after the first bomb exploded.

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Celeste Corcoran was the first witness to give evidence in the sentencing phase of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's trial.

She told the court in Boston: "I remember hearing just blood-curdling screams."

She said the pain was so great that she felt like she wanted to die, but she quickly regained her resolve to live when she thought of her family.

Ms Corcoran said she learned only after her legs were amputated that her 17-year-old daughter Sydney had also been seriously hurt and almost bled to death.

The mother and daughter shared a hospital room for weeks, then had adjoining rooms at a rehabilitation hospital.

Earlier the sentencing hearing started with a prosecutor telling the jurors they will come to know the four people killed and "why their lives mattered".

With enlarged photographs of the victims behind her, prosecutor Nadine Pellegrini said: "They were all beautiful, and they're all now gone." She described the killings as "unbearable, indescribable, inexcusable and senseless".

"They had time to be scared and frightened," she told the jury that will decide whether 21-year-old Tsarnaev should get the death penalty or life in prison.

"They had no time to say goodbye. That is the very essence of terror."

The prosecutor concluded her opening statement by showing the jury a photo of Tsarnaev in his jail cell, giving the finger to the video surveillance camera. It was three months after the bombings.

"He had one more message to send," Ms Pellegrini said.

The three bomb victims were: Martin Richard, an eight-year-old Boston boy; Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old Boston University graduate student from China; and Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant manager from Bedford.

They were killed in the 2013 bombing near the finish line of the marathon. More than 260 others were wounded, including many who lost limbs.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier was killed days later, shot in the head inside his patrol car as Tsarnaev and his older brother Tamerlan made their getaway.

"You know how they died, now you need to know how they lived," the prosecutor said. "You need to know and to understand why their lives mattered."

Tsarnaev was convicted earlier this month of all 30 charges against him. The penalty phase is expected to last about a month.

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