Dzokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving of the alleged Boston Bombing Brothers, was in federal district court in Boston on Wednesday, July 10. Tsarnaev was there to respond to the 30-count indictment charging him, among other things, with use of weapons of mass destruction that resulted in death.
Three people died as the result of the April 15 bombings: 8 year old Martin Richard; 29 year old Krystle Marie Campbell; and 23 year old Lingzi Lu, and 280 were injured, many grievously. In addition, a security officer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sean Collier, was killed by a gunshot to the head, fired at close range, by one of the brothers at the beginning of their attempted escape.
The courtroom was packed with the legal teams, members of the press, and about 30 victims of the bombings. Several dozen additional members of the public packed the courtroom and two overflow rooms.
In addition to a phalanx of MIT security officers lined up outside the courtroom in a show of support for their slain colleague, and the victims of the bombings, there were also those in the crowd who claimed Tsarnaev was innocent.
“I see zero evidence to say he actually did this,” Lacey Buckley, 23, of Washington state told the Boston Herald. “There is no DNA; there are no fingerprints. They got nothing.”
About a half dozen supporters, all young women, wore T-shirts that read “Free the Lion” and “Dzhokhar is innocent.”
The 19 year old defendant was dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, with a black t-shirt underneath. His hair was long and appeared unkempt, according to reports. One arm was either bandaged or in a cast, and there were visible wounds: some on his face and at least one on his throat, where it is believed he had been shot.
He sat between his two lawyers, Judy Clarke and Miriam Conrad. Clarke rubbed his shoulder during the hearing. Several former team members of his wrestling team from the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School were present at the arraignment.
“Not guilty” was the plea Tsarnaev uttered in what was described as a thick Russian accent, in response to the 30 charges. The arraignment took less than ten minutes.
The trial, on the other hand, is expected to take at least four months. William Weinreb, the prosecutor, said that between 80 – 100 witnesses will be called.
The “not guilty” pleas were not a big surprise to the legal teams, but what certainly seemed to be admissions, scrawled in his own blood on the inside of the boat in which Tsarnaev hid before he was captured will be addressed during the trial. Those statements, according to the indictment, included: ”
- The U.S. Government is killing our innocent civilians.
- Can’t stand to see such evil go unpunished.
- We Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all.
- Now I don’t like killing innocent people it is forbidden in Islam but due to said [unintelligible] it is allowed.
- Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop.
Most media accounts of the hearing report that Tsarnaev appeared either bored with or exhausted by the proceeding, but buried in a Boston Globe account was a surprise. It said he only became fully alert when he saw
two women sitting in the courtroom, one of whom was weeping while the other held a small child, during the seven minute hearing. As he was being escorted out of the courtroom with cuffs on his hands and feet, Tsarnaev blew a kiss towards the women.
Some reporters with the Globe speculated that the women are Tsarnaev’s sisters. The smiles and the blown kiss towards the two women were the only indications of emotion from Tsarnaev. He never looked at any of the victims, nor have there been any reports that he has expressed remorse.
The most emotional statement of the day came from the MIT Police chief John DiFava, who called Tsarnaev a “punk” who “showed no remorse” and said he hopes the prosecution will seek the death penalty if Tsarnaev is found guilty.
Seventeen of the 30 counts with which Tsarnaev has been charged are crimes for which the death penalty is a possible punishment. It is up to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to decide whether the death penalty will be sought.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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