Testifying at Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's trial on Thursday, William Richard told a federal jury that while his 8-year-old son Martin was dying on the sidewalk near the Boston Marathon finish line, he had to make a heartbreaking decision.
"I knew in my head that I needed to act quickly, or we might not only lose Martin," he said. "We might lose Jane, too."
Leaving his injured wife, Denise, with their dying son, Richard rushed to tend to his other two children, including his 7-year-old daughter Jane, who had lost the lower part of her left leg in the second of the two explosions.
“When I saw Martin, I knew he wasn’t going to make it. . . . I needed to go to the ambulance, with Jane and Henry,” said Richard.
“I saw my son alive, barely, for the last time,” he testified. “I saw a little boy, who had been severely damaged by an explosion, and I just knew, from what I saw, there was no chance.”
Richard was one of seven witnesses that described in graphic detail the horrifying aftermath that followed the bomb explosions on April 15, 2013 during the Boston Marathon.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev faces 30 charges, 17 of which carry the possibility of the death penalty, the Boston Globe reports.
His lawyers have admitted that he set off the second bomb that day, but they hope to use his trial to portray Tsarnaev as an unwilling participant in the attack, influenced by his older brother Tamerlan. Tsarnaev’s attorneys hope to spare him from the death penalty.
However, Assistant US Attorney William Weinreb claims that Tsarnaev was an equal partner to his brother, who was killed four days after the bombings during a violent confrontation with police. Weinreb says Tsarnaev waited four minutes before dropping his backpack in front of the Forum restaurant, near a group of children, including Martin Richard.
In his account, William Richard told jurors that he looked to his left when the first bomb went off on Boylston Street.
“Time slowed down, and I recall thinking, ‘OK, we should probably go,’ ” he said.
He thought of directing his family into the street, away from the sidewalk, but then he was thrown into the air by the second blast.
He searched for his family. Jane was on the ground. His wife, Denise, was hovering over Martin. His son, Henry, who 11 years old at the time, asked him, “Is this really happening?” Richard told him it was.
Jane, an avid Irish dancer, lost her left leg under the knee. She and Henry both suffered burns and other wounds. Denise lost sight in one eye.
Richard said his injuries were less severe than the wounds his family and many other victims suffered. His ear drums were perforated and he lost some of his hearing.
“But I can still hear you,” he told Assistant US Attorney Nadine Pellegrini. “I can still hear music. I can still hear the beautiful voices of my family.”