Ethnic Chechens, the brothers came to Massachusetts with their family, fleeing violence at home and hoping for a better life. They settled in the college town of Cambridge and Dzhokhar, then aged just eight, appeared to fit it.
Larry Aaronson, a history teacher at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School - the alma mater of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck – told CBS that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had been attentive pupil. He was a captain of the wrestling team.
A courtroom sketch shows accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in court on the second day of his trial
“I know this kid to be compassionate. I know this kid to be forthgoing. He’s a great athlete, a sportsman, he’s never been in trouble,” he said. “He was just generous, he was compassionate, he was thoughtful.”
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At the time he and his elder brother launched their attack at the finishing line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, Tsarnaev was a second-year medical student at the University of Massachusetts and the recipient of an $2,500 scholarship for promising student. His father said he wanted to become a brain surgeon.
The older brother was killed in shootout with police on 18 April 2013. Tsarnaev fled the shootout and was captured a day later, after being found hiding a boat in the backyard of a house in Watertown, a Boston suburb.
His family is believed to have spent a number of years in Kyrgyzstan, where Tsarnaev was thought to have have been born there in 1994.
Sister Helen Prejean
Tsarnaev became an American citizen in 2012. Shortly before the bombing, the brothers’ father, Anzor Tsarnaev, moved back to Dagestan following a divorce from his wife.
Tsarnaev told the BBC he believed the secret services had frame his sons.
Tsarnaev's Facebook profile listed “Islam” as his world view and said his life goals as “career and money”. On the Russian social networking site VKontakte he was a member of various Chechen groups.
Shortly after the bombings, the brothers’ uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, said the brothers had “put shame on our family and on the entire Chechen ethnicity”, and noted that he had not seen his nephews for 10 years.
During the sentencing phase, lawyers for the convicted man called upon a range of people to speak of his character. Among those who appeared was activist and nun Helen Prejean.
She said she had met with Tsarnaev five times and that during those meetings he had expressed his remorse for what had happened. It seems the jury did not believe her.