BOSTON — Boston Marathon Bombing survivor Rebekah Gregory is still stunned that a panel of federal judges vacated convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s death penalty sentence.
“If this is justice, then I’ve had the wrong definition of justice my entire life,” said Gregory. “It’s really a slap in the face. They talk about him not getting a fair trial, but what’s not fair is the lives that were lost that day. And all of the people affected who have to live this nightmare again.”
On April 15, 2013, Gregory was visiting Boston with her son, Noah.
They were near Marathon Sports on Boylston Street, when the first bomb, one planted by Dzhokhar’s brother, Tamerlan, exploded.
Gregory was nearly killed, but her body shielded Noah from serious injuries.
Now, more than seven years later, Gregory feels helpless that she can’t shield Noah from the new attention this decision is bringing.
“Now [Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s] face is in the news,” said Gregory. “My son, who was five at the time is turning 13 years old. I want to take his phone now. I don’t want him to have to see this and replay what we moved on from.”
In Friday’s ruling, a panel of three federal judges found Tsarnaev’s trial judge made mistakes, including not properly screening anti-Tsarnaev bias from the jury.
The panel also found it was a mistake not to allow the jury to hear evidence of Tamerlan’s alleged involvement in a 2011 triple murder in Waltham.
“If the jury was presented with this idea that Dzhokhar was afraid of his older brother, that he was coerced into the bombing, do you think that would have made a difference?” Boston 25 Reporter Bob Ward asked.
“Whether or not he was influenced by his brother, he still did it. He still dropped that backpack and had no remorse for it,” Gregory answered.
The road to recovery for Gregory has been long and painful.
Her left leg was amputated and, even after 70 surgeries, her body still holds pieces of the bomb that nearly killed her.
But today, Gregory is leading a new life.
In 2015, between the criminal and penalty phases of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial, Gregory ran the Boston Marathon, famously collapsing at the finish line.
Now five years later, she’s determined to reach a different finish line
“Are you ready to go through another trial if it comes to that?” Ward asked.
“You know what? I am ready,” said Gregory. “I stood up in front of the biggest enemy of my life and I told him he didn’t win. And that was a turning point for me, in so many ways. If I have to do that again, I will. I hope it doesn’t come to that.”
It’s possible the federal government will try to restore Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s death penalty with a new trial and a new jury.
If that happens, Gregory says she will be there.
Cox Media Group