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‘Truly heartbroken': Boston Marathon bombing survivors on Tsarnaev's overturned death sentence

The news that a court had ordered a new penalty-phase trial for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hit survivors of the attack hard
Credit: AP
FILE - In this April 17, 2013 photograph, flowers and signs adorn a barrier, two days after two explosions killed three and injured hundreds, at Boylston Street near the of finish line of the Boston Marathon at a makeshift memorial for victims and survivors of the bombing. Boston will mark the second anniversary of the 2013 marathon bombings Wednesday, April 15, 2015 with a subdued remembrance that includes a moment of silence, the pealing of church bells and a call for kindness. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

BOSTON, Massachusetts — Survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings said Friday was a hard day after learning that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's death sentence had been overturned.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new penalty-phase trial on whether Tsarnaev should be executed for the 2013 attack that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.

Time may have passed, but while pain like that Robert Wheeler has may fade, it never disappears.

"I just feel betrayed, and I'm truly heartbroken. I don't have many other words to say, other then betrayal," Wheeler said. "The smells, the sulfur, I just remember that every day."

Wheeler had just crossed the finish line back on April 15, 2013, when two bombs exploded 14 seconds apart.

Wheeler rushed to help others. He still deals with a traumatic brain injury, hearing loss and his legs having been cut with glass from the bombings.

His anger is solely focused on the lone surviving attacker -- Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, whose older brother, Tamerlan, died in a gun battle with police during the manhunt a few days later.

"I don't want to spend another cent on this man. I want him to not have the joy of life anymore," Wheeler said.

"This just brings it -- it makes me, go, 'Whoa, whoa,'" said Melida Arrendondo.

Credit: AP
FILE - This file photo released April 19, 2013, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, convicted and sentenced to death for carrying out the April 15, 2013, Boston Marathon bombing attack that killed three people and injured more than 260. On Friday, July 31, 2020, a federal appeals court overturned the Boston Marathon bomber's death sentence. (FBI via AP, File)

She was stopped in her tracks with the news. She was with her husband, Carlos Arredondo, at the finish line that day, also rushing to help others.

Like so many, they experienced the roller coaster of the trials, and they worry about reliving the pain.

"I was originally was sort of in shock," she said. "Now I'm like, 'Oh boy, let's see how much this is going to impact my life again.'"

"I was in tears because it brings it all back," said Laurie Scher, who was working in a medical tent on that fateful Marathon Monday. "So many of us were afraid this was going to happen, because he did get the death penalty, this was going to keep coming back, and it opens up old wounds and it is devastating."