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Boston Marathon: Runners mark 2-year anniversary as trial resumes

Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopa crosses the finish line to win the 119th Boston Marathon.

Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopa crosses the finish line to win the 119th Boston Marathon on 20 April, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Picture: AFP.

BOSTON - The trial of the man convicted for the Boston Marathon bombings two years ago, killing three people and wounding 264 will resume today.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys are due to begin presenting another series of witnesses before the jury decides whether Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be sentenced to death or to life in prison without possibility of parole.

The idea of putting Tsarnaev, a 21-year-old ethnic Chechen, to death remains controversial in Boston, where polls show a deeply divided public.

Four victims of the bombing, including the families of two of the people killed by the bombs and a couple who lost legs in the blast, have now made public statements opposing seeking death for Tsarnaev.

"If there is anyone who deserves the ultimate punishment, it is the defendant. However, we must overcome the impulse for vengeance," said Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, who both lost legs in the attack, in a statement. "We believe that the best way to move forward and achieve our goals is a life sentence in prison without the opportunity for parole."

Last week, the parents of 8-year-old Martin Richard, the youngest to die in the attack, made a similar statement.

In both cases, the argument was not one of philosophical opposition to capital punishment but a practical one, that a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole could spare the families and public further weeks of emotionally charged testimony and possibly years of appeals.

MARATHON

Ethiopian runner Lelisa Desisa finished first in the Boston Marathon on Monday, reclaiming the top spot in a race he last won two years ago when it was struck by a deadly bombing attack.

Desisa, who famously gave his winner's medal to the city following the 2013 bombing, pulled ahead to sprint down Boylston Street alone, finishing with a time of 2 hours, 9 minutes and 17 seconds.

Security was high near the start line in Hopkinton, along the 42.16 km course and around the finish line in Boston, in recognition of the bombing, one of the most visible attacks on US soil since 11 September, 2001.

Desisa unseated reigning champion Meb Keflezighi of California, whose 2014 victory marked the first time that a US man had won the race in three decades.

Keflezighi, who finished eighth, crossed the line hand-in-hand with another US runner, Hilary Dionne, who finished 15th in the women's field.

"I've never met her. I had to sprint hard to catch up with her to do that," Keflezighi said afterward. "It was fun to do that."

The top US male finisher was Dathan Ritzenhein, of Michigan, who finished seventh.

The elite men's and women's fields kept large packs for the first half of the race, with runners mindful of the early breakaway that set the stage for Keflezighi's 2014 victory.

Desisa, 25, ran shorter events before switching his focus to marathons in 2013, when he surprised the field at Boston with his fast performance. He started the race in 2014 but walked off the course with an injury.

Rotich, 30, was born in Kenya but attended high school in Japan. She has posted top-ten performances at top marathons in Tokyo, New York and Chicago.

The top US women's finisher, Desiree Linden, led the pack for much of the race before Rotich passed her in the final miles, leaving Linden to finish fourth. Linden said the long lead was a strategic move intended to winnow the field.

"I know a lot of people will question it, 'Why did you run in the front and put yourself in the wind?'" Linden told reporters. "But I think that's how you have to run here. You have to be gritty and aggressive."

Meanwhile, South Africa's Ernst Van Dyk came second in the wheelchair race and Lusapho April managed 13th place.

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