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'I've Been Expecting This' Marathon Bombing Survivors, Families React To Tsarnaev's Appeal Win

BOSTON (CBS) – Retired Transit Police office Dic Donohue, who was injured during the manhunt for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, reacted Friday to news that a federal appeals court overturned Tsarnaev's death penalty punishment.

The three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston issued the decision more than six months after arguments were heard in the case.

The April 15, 2013, attack killed three people and injured more than 260 others. MIT Police Officer Sean Collier was killed in the aftermath of the bombing. Boston Police officer Dennis Simmonds suffered a head injury during a shootout with the Tsarnaev brothers and died almost a year later.

"If anything deserves the death penalty, it was what happened on Boylston Street back in April 2013," said former Watertown Police Chief Ed Deveau, who led the manhunt in 2013.

Boston Marathon Bombing Victims
Martin Richard, Lingzi Lu, Krystle Campbell, Sean Collier and Dennis Simmonds. (WBZ-TV)

Though the appeals court ruled Tsarnaev's penalty phase should be retried, they made clear his life sentence remains in place.

"I've been expecting this since the trial and the initial appeal," Donohue tweeted. "And in any case, he won't be getting out and hasn't been able to harm anyone since he was captured."

Donohue's wife Kim tweeted, "I've been inspired by survivors, move to tears by doctors, and forever indebted to those who saved Dic's life in Watertown. No sentencing will ever change that."

"I feel betrayed," said Rob Wheeler, who had just finished his first marathon when he turned around and began trying to save lives. " I honestly feel a betrayal from my country and a betrayal from my justice system."

Marc Fucarile, who lost his leg in the bombing, told WEEI, he's disappointed by the lack of accountability. "If somebody hurts your kids, your family, you want to kill them. You want them dead. And all these people are doing is protecting him:? It's a joke," he said.

Maria Arredondo, whose husband Carlos jumped into the crowd to help victims, said she still has nightmares. However, she said, the survivors of the bombing were "a united group" and supported each other through the original trial. "This may unite us in a different frame, in a different way that I didn't – I really didn't want."

"I am now reliving that day and the trial and it is extremely painful," said Laurie Scher, who was at the medical tent and witnessed the carnage. "Quite frankly, I wish they would just lock him up and throw away the key."

Martin Richard's family did not have a comment but came out against the death penalty in 2015 in an editorial in The Boston Globe.

The Boston Athletic Association issued a statement following the ruling.

"We are aware of the decision issued by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and have no further comment," the B.A.A. said.

Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, now a WBZ-TV security analyst, said that while he understands the ruling, "it still hurts."

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