Carjack Victim Testifies in Tsarnaev Trial

Dun Meng, the Chinese national whose Mercedes was carjacked by Tamerlan Tsarnaev, testified today about his ordeal. He said Tamerlan was alone when he carjacked him, threatened him with a gun and then had him drive around for 20 to 30 minutes before they picked up Jahar.

During cross-examination by the defense, Meng acknowledged that Tamerlan was the one who jumped in his car and threatened him with a gun. He said Dzhokhar barely spoke to him, except to ask if the sound system in his car would work with his iPhone.


Other statements by Meng that may help the defense in the penalty phase: Tamerlan admitted to Meng that he (as opposed to "we")just killed a police officer.

Meng said Tsarnaev asked him if he knew who committed the Boston Marathon bombing.

"He said, 'I did it, and I just killed a policeman in Cambridge,'" Meng said.

When the defense doesn't cross examine a witness, it's because doing so is unlikely to advance its theme that Jahar was a typical teen until he fell under the influence of his brother. The theme was introduced in the defense opening. "It was Tamerlan who self-radicalized,” Clarke said. “It was Dzhokhar who followed.” It will argue his lack of a leadership role, his youth, his troubled family life and history, and his lack of prior serious criminal activity are all mitigating factors warranting a life sentence.

I think Mung helped further the defense theme today. Of course, it remains to be seen whether any juror will be persuaded, given the extensive testimony about injuries and photos of the carnage already introduced, and which they will see and hear more of in the sentencing phase.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Carjack victim pulled over to text, which (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 12:57:30 AM EST
    Boston Globe and other news media indicate put him into position to be car-jacked:


    So what's the take-away (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Zorba on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 01:13:17 PM EST
    lesson here?
    Go ahead and text while driving, or you may be car-jacked by Chechen bombers?

    No, but the Next Time (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 02:21:09 PM EST
    ...someone gets all... about my texting I got an awesome reply.

    LOL! (none / 0) (#7)
    by Zorba on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 02:39:55 PM EST
    But on a serious note, Scott, you are far more likely to get into a potentially fatal (for you or others ) accident while texting, than to get car- jacked by a Chechen bomber.
    Just saying.

    Well Seriously... (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 03:15:19 PM EST
    ...I don't text when driving.  I made a conciseness decision when I go my last vehicle.  I added a phone mount and car dock app that will not let me text once the BT connects.

    My problem wasn't the texting, it was the internet surfing and game playing in stop and go traffic, which isn't dangerous, but is when traffic clears and you are driving down the freeway playing poker...

    But now I got a zinger should I stray someday.


    I'm thinking (none / 0) (#2)
    by Reconstructionist on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 10:30:32 AM EST
      the testimony that a major concern for Dzokhar was whether he could stream from his iphone to the car sound system is going to be a problem.

      Regardless of  who as leading or following, that won't be hard to portray as evincing a pretty cold-blooded state of mind.

      Tunes for a road trip being a priority at that time doesn't have a good spin that leaps to mind.

    My Take is Just the Opposite... (5.00 / 5) (#8)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 02:53:38 PM EST
    ...in that only a fool would would connect their phone to a hijacked/stolen car when fleeing from a crime.  

    Bluetooth has an address, like a serial number that the car would have recorded so it could be recognized in the future.

    And depending on the system, there is a good chance that the Benz would have downloaded his address book, text messages, recent emails, and call histories.

    To me that shows his maturity, he was worried about music more than getting caught.  Like none of it really sunk in, that they were fugitives who were most likely going to die in the very near future.

    Very teenagerish to worry about connecting a phone to car to play music rather than the million far more important things I think most mature people would have been focusing on.


    Or maybe he wanted to check the latest local (none / 0) (#10)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 05:55:15 PM EST

    doubtful because (none / 0) (#11)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 06:13:59 PM EST
    he could have listened to the news, including local, on the car radio. He asked if the sound system in the Mercedes would work with his iPhone. It's more logical he wanted to listen to something available on his iphone that was not available on the radio, like his music.

    Google is his friend. He is fleeing the scene of (none / 0) (#12)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 06:19:29 PM EST
    where someone committed a serious crime.  He carjacks and kidnaps.  He is separated from his brother who was at the crime scene with him.

    Tamerlan alone carjacked (none / 0) (#13)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 07:21:07 PM EST
    Danny, the Chinese national, according to his trial testimony and prior interviews, said he drove around with Tamerlan for 20 to 30 minutes with Jahar following his car. At some point, Tamerlan had Danny pull over and the Honda was behind them. Tamleran and Dzhokhar transferred items from  the Honda into the Mercedes, Tamerlan got in the driver's seat, Danny in the passenger seat and Jahar in the back seat.

    According to Danny's first extensive interview with the Boston Globe that lasted 2 1/2 hours, they talked about:

    Girls, credit limits for students, the marvels of the Mercedes-Benz ML 350 and the iPhone 5, whether anyone still listens to CDs --

    Tamerlan put a CD of music in the sound system and Danny says they avoided the news:

    Tamerlan asked him to turn on and demonstrate the radio. The older brother then quickly flipped through stations, seemingly avoiding the news. He asked if Danny had any CDs. No, he replied, he listens to music on his phone.

    What About This Spin? (none / 0) (#3)
    by RickyJim on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 11:59:31 AM EST
    A dopey pothead, following his brother around, brings up the thing of most importance to him when he has use of a car that is new to him.  The pothead defense was used before by Dzokhar's pal Robel Phillipos, with I think some success, when charged with lying to the FBI.

    I believe (none / 0) (#4)
    by Reconstructionist on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 12:36:06 PM EST
      the "dopey pothead" defense was employed to support an argument that defendant did not provide intentionally false statements but rather was just too stoned to recall events accurately.

      I also recall that he was convicted.

      Conviction is not really  an issue for Tsarnev, and in the penalty phase I doubt  the defense will try to argue he was too stoned to understand he was fleeing from a murder and to further that effort was engaging in carjacking and armed robbery (Hobbs Act)  at the moment when the tunes issue  was of the "most importance" to him. It's the very  inference that was important to him under the circumstances that is so harmful.


    In early interviews, Danny said Tamerlan (none / 0) (#14)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 07:25:25 PM EST
    was the ringleader, giving out orders, and Jahar did as instructed:

    While the talkative Tamerlan was the ringleader during the carjacking, the quiet Dzhokhar responded to multiple orders, such as getting money from an ATM. The only question Dzhokhar asked was how much Danny paid for his Mercedes SUV.

    Yep Meng has previously said (none / 0) (#15)
    by TH71 on Sun Mar 15, 2015 at 12:56:29 AM EST
    that Tamerlan gave orders and Dzhokhar followed them. In more than one interview. So in that respect, I thought the prosecution prepped Meng well because this aspect was played down in direct and Mellin even asked Meng if Tamerlan threatened or yelled at Dzhokhar and Meng said no.

    One thing I found interesting during cross was that Bruck asked Meng if Tamerlan ever made a phone call during the time they were together. According to earlier (in the trial) cell phone testimony, Dzhokhar's and Tamerlan's phones were on opposite sites of the Charles River around 11pm. This was when the carjacking was taking place. We know Dzhokhar wasn't always in the Mercedes SUV with them, but that at some point they met up again and Dzhokhar got in the Mercedes with Tamerlan and Meng. But I wondered why this phone call would be important enough for Bruck to ask about it. I have no idea.