Death penalty opponent and activist Sr. Helen Prejean testified for the Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s defense Monday, just weeks after visiting DePaul to speak against the death penalty.
“I had every reason to think he was taking it in and he was genuinely sorry for what he did,” Prejean said after speaking with Tsarnaev.
A New York Times report said Prejean was the first witness on the defense to provide evidence Tsarnaev expressed remorse for placing two bombs at the Boston Marathon in April 2013.
Tsarnaev, 21, was convicted of all 30 charges last month for the death of three and injury of more than 260 others. Seventeen of the convictions can be used for the death penalty. Massachusetts outlawed the death penalty in 1984, but the case has been moved to the federal level to be tried as a death penalty case.
Prejean is known for her famed book “Dead Man Walking” that was adapted to film in 1995. What began as written correspondences between Death Row inmates in the 1980s became a 30-year project fighting for the abolition of the death penalty.
“It boils down to this: That no human being can ever be identified completely with the worst act of their life,” Prejean said at DePaul last month. “Life is fluid. There’s a transcendence in us. We can change.”
Prejean would not comment on the trial and is waiting for the jury to reach a verdict before making a comment. She has met with Tsarnaev five times since March at the defense team’s request, the New York Times reported, and expressing remorse will be an important element to his defense. So far in the trial Tsarnaev has been described as slouching in his chair and impassive during victims’ testimonies.
Prejean has testified on Tsarnaev’s behalf to help his image and show he feels remorse for his actions. On Monday she said, “He said emphatically, ‘No one deserves to suffer like they did.’”