The Real Victim and His Impact Statement

It must be terrible to suffer the horrors of life in prison, awaiting execution, convicted of a crime you did not commit. Last month, I would have said there could be nothing worse in the spectrum of human experience.

This month, I know better.

It is hard to consider, but the new day-to-day reality for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is this: having no choice but to suffer the horrors of life in total solitary confinement, imprisoned in silence, awaiting execution, convicted of a crime that never even happened… and those who put him there did it for money.

I can’t get my mind around it.

How did people knowingly take the stand in front of him and tearfully and/or defiantly express outrage at him, knowing every sentence they spoke describing what he had taken from them was a lie, knowing as they did that the injuries they lamented were old, knowing the amputations that were real enough had occurred long before the bombing of the Boston Marathon. The anger that wells up in me when I picture the day of sentencing and that sad procession of frauds speaking before him makes me want to crawl out of my skin.

I can’t imagine what that poor boy is suffering right now. I can’t imagine what he is thinking and feeling… However, one who faithfully reads this blog, Cheryl Dean, was able to imagine it and she shared with me a powerful, poignant letter she wrote as if Dzhokhar was the author, writing to his sisters. I share it with you now in its entirety. Cheryl has created what, in my mind, amounts to a victim impact statement that might have been spoken by Dzhokhar (the only real victim to appear in Judge O’Toole’s courtroom) instead of the nonsense he was forced to say.

And why did Cheryl take this action? I can explain that; we who love Dzhokhar and know he is innocent, convicted of a crime that never even happened, feel pain and helplessness at times. And in those excruciating moments, we have discovered that writing can make the feelings bearable, allowing us to once again take courage and wait as patiently as possible for the Lord to reveal and carry out His unstoppable plan to exonerate and free Dzhokhar.

That is why I and others still blog about this case, three years after and will continue to do so.

Here now is the beautiful writing of Cheryl Dean:

To my dear sisters,

 I’m so grateful and happy that I am allowed to write to you. It seems a small thing, but here in my tiny cement world, it’s everything. I get to write some of my words on paper, words that fill my entire body, words that I am mostly never allowed to say or express. Sometimes I feel I will burst from all that I must contain within me.

 It’s not normal, it’s not humane or realistic to expect a person to be so much less than they are. Sometimes I don’t feel human anymore. Who or what am I now? I am alive because my heart continues to beat, but I am not living. I am but a shell of a person -more like a zombie – even worse than Zombie Apocalypse! At least they could walk around and see people.

 I am not my own person anymore. Someone else owns me; I am lower than a slave. It’s as if I were someone’s car, just an object. They can wash and polish me if they want to, or take me for drives, or to run errands, or they can neglect me and put me in the windowless garage for years, never to see the daylight again.

It’s like a dog that lives his entire life chained to a dilapidated doghouse. He looks and barks like a dog, but does nothing that other dogs do: never runs free, never receives love, never plays or fights with other dogs, never buries a bone… can you still call him a dog? I don’t think so.

 I have no say over my own mere existence. They have taken my dignity, my character, my personality, my intelligence, my rights, my loved ones, my friends and every other single thing they could possibly take from me.

 The aching and longing for life never subsides. I wonder if it ever will.

So many lives have been ruined – for nothing.

I am thinking of not going outside anymore. What is the difference if I sit in this cage or if I stand in a cage outside? I can’t see anything there. At least inside I don’t have to worry about the wannabe soldier guards with their high-powered guns pointing at my head.

 I often fear that I will suddenly trip while being taken outside or sneeze really hard. If I did, would they be so startled that they would shoot me in the head? Would they kill me for sneezing or tripping? They could, saying they feared for their safety. And let’s face it; their safety is the only safety that matters – certainly not mine.

 I don’t even want to take a shower anymore. It’s the same procedure and it’s not worth it. I can wash in my cell just as well. The showers are usually cold and only last for a minute so it would be no loss to me. It would be a disappointment to the guards and FBI though if they had one less person to humiliate and take all dignity from – for that is the sum of their daily job here.

 I lie in my cell day after day and wonder “What is the purpose of this?” Why keep people barely existing, barely alive? Is it for the sick pleasure of those in charge? Does it make them feel like big strong men – patriots? I think that must be it. It certainly isn’t to protect anyone.

I’ve never hurt a fly in my entire life and I never would.

When I think of those who run the country and this prison – all prisons – I become physically nauseous. What an evil, sick world we live in – a world that God created for all of us to live in freely, as good people. But the powerful have desecrated it. God must weep day and night…

 I’m sorry if my letter makes you sad but I had to relieve a bit of the dam of words in my head or go crazy. And I can never write such thoughts to mamulya and papa; they are already in such great pain.

 I wonder when I will see you again.

 Even when I do, we cannot talk about anything. You’ll sit across from me and look into my eyes, trying to see how I am, how I am feeling. You’ll try to see if my bones are sticking out anywhere. You’ll ask what I eat and how much. You’ll smile at my out-of-control hair, which I’ve come to love.

I’ll look at your faces and try to convey my brotherly love, to ease your worry over me, but it won’t work will it? None of this is fair and I cry at the thought of how my family and friends have suffered and continue to suffer. I don’t believe it can ever be undone.

 My life here is already over; it has already been taken from me; it serves no purpose – for me or anyone else. Maybe God will quietly take me one day. I wouldn’t mind. What great joy it would be to see Tam and our other relatives in heaven.

If that ever does happen, please don’t be sad. You can rejoice knowing I am safe and in the arms of God and loved ones.  I can’t wait to hug them and be hugged again.

 I’ve never wanted anything so badly in my life as a simple hug…

 Your loving bro,


I chose to add the video below not only for the appropriateness of the song, but for the story of the young man singing it. Be sure not to skip ahead to the song or you will miss some of the significance that makes it perfect for this post today. Even Simon Cowell cries… remember the last line of the letter above. When a very tearful judge asks the singer if she can give him a hug after he finishes and he shyly answers how he would love a hug, well… have tissues ready.

I could easily see Dzhokhar dedicating this song to his friends to say he’s aware of and jealous of the way they’re able to be happy without him. And knowing what I do of his compassionate nature and self-sacrificing ways, I can see him willing to forgive those who know him and can still think he is guilty of such a terrible crime. “There’s nothing to forgive… I wish you the best of all this world can give…”

After his release, which I am sure is coming one day, I can see him, unsure of himself in the spotlight… Smiling shyly as thousands hear him tell his story, cheering with joy afterwards as they celebrate all the ways God helped him endure and overcome and all the while Dzhokhar stands quiet and humble…

That is why I added this particular video to the post. I hope it touches your heart the way it does mine each and every time I watch it. And I hope you never forget Dzhokhar. I know I never will.

12 thoughts on “The Real Victim and His Impact Statement”

    1. Hello Marianne, I am thrilled you share my belief on this and thrilled you have found my blog! I would love the opportunity sometime to tell you how the Lord ministered to me yesterday when He led me to find your blog post “The Jezebel Spirit and the Single Woman in the Church.” This is an important and not-often-discussed subject on a dynamic that is doing much harm to women like me. But that was yesterday – before I found your blog. I thank you for creating! The Lord used another blog post of yours last year to free me from a site that claims to be Christian and claims to support Jahar as far as caring about his salvation but is deceptively rife with judgement, condemnation and the spirit of Jezebel… Like your blog post said happens when the real meets the false, I was driven from that site in no uncertain terms and recognized the tactics used against me that you listed in a blog post. I know longer recall the title of the post but I’ll bet you know which one I refer to.

      Your brief comment speaks volumes and I thank you for it!

  1. Lynn, there is no box of Kleenex large enough to dry my tears. THIS blog captured my heart and grasped it from beginning to end. That letter was beautiful. Even if it wasn’t written by Jahar himself I’m pretty sure that is what he thinks about everyday. Cheryl did an amazing job with that letter. There is suffering in Unit H. Everyday is a struggle. But Jahar is a warrior. One day he will be exonerated and that young man will breathe the air and touch the grass and be able to get not just one hug but many hugs from supporters who never gave up on him, who were constantly his voice when he had none. One day he will be set free from those shackles. Until then, the fight for his freedom must go on. I thank you for your blogs Lynn. You are a voice for Jahar, for those who can’t speak up. That song at the end. WOW… Powerful. To have Simon cry…that means something. Powerful song, powerful voice, powerful message, powerful blog! Now let me dry my tears…😊

    1. Thank you Lincoln. So grateful you have the courage to still stand beside me. I have seen that video before and every time I watch it I cry. That young man’s humility and heartfelt tender affection for his deceased friend reminds me of Dzhokhar and who I imagine him to be.

      1. And NEVER leaving…. Saw you added to your blog and it couldn’t be more perfect. Jahar wants his freedom Lynn… And my heart says one day he will get it. Innocence in God’s eyes will always receive an exoneration… Gods choice when to hand out a death sentence, not judge or jury. Great add on. Must leave this blog. I’m tired of crying…😪

      2. I know… I keep watching it and crying then asking myself why I am doing this to myself when I KNOW Dzhokhar’s story has a happy ending…

  2. Very touching Lynn. The letter is beautiful but so sad. I imagine, he does think these things. Cheryl Dean has conveyed this so well. For prisoners in H unit at ADX, where Dzhokhar is, I’m sure it’s even much worse than we can imagine.
    To think there are 100,000 men, women and children living in similar conditions in US prisons and many probably also innocent, not that it’s right for any human being to be treated like this. Where is the compassion and humanity? Severely lacking or non existent in the US gov to say the least. We will all have things to account for when we die, but those in charge of what goes on in US prisons, jails, prosecutors offices and courtrooms will pay heavily when their time comes. There will be no way to justify the crimes against humanity that they have all committed, knowingly, on purpose. Good post Lynn!

    1. The only people in the world allowed to visit Dzhokhar, are his two sisters. They can only visit one at a time, and with an FBI agent sitting beside them. Their visits are few and far between. It has been talked about in court documents. The case is now before the appellate court, where they will decide if a new trial is warranted, or a new sentencing hearing, or even possibly an acquittal.The defense has asked for this based on a lack of evidence and misconduct during the trial. There are dozens of legitimate legal reasons to appeal this case.

      1. And dozens more to throw it out completely and exonerate Dzhokhar and set him free…

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