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Tsarnaev Defense Begins Making Case for Life

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's defense team began making the case for life instead of death today. From David Bruck's opening statement: (Taken from WBZ reporter Jim Armstrong's live tweets in court.) [More...]

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Tsarnaev Cell Video : Where's the Anger?

Here's the 36 second video of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev that was played to the jury. I don't see any anger, just boredom. Who wouldn't be bored sitting alone in a holding cell all day?

What a big to-do about nothing. The reporter who said his face showed huge anger should cover something other than criminal trials.

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Victim's Family Asks Govt to Let Tsarnaev Have Life Sentence

The family of Martin Richards, the youngest victim killed in the Boston Marathon bombings, has written a public request asking the Government to withdraw its request for the death penalty.

"We understand all too well the heinousness and brutality of the crimes committed. We were there. We lived it.... "The defendant murdered our 8-year-old son, maimed our 7-year-old daughter, and stole part of our soul. We know that the government has its reasons for seeking the death penalty, but the continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives."

The Richards want Tsarnaev to accept a sentence of life without parole and waive his right to future appeals.

AUSA Carmen Ortiz responded with a non-answer.

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Tsarnaev: Making the Case for Life

The penalty phase of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's trial doesn't begin until April 21. In the meantime, here's a photo I came across yesterday.

I think it effectively communicates more than the difference in age between the brothers. Tamerlan is just so dominant in the photo. Even the way he has his arm around Jahar seems controlling to me. Looking at it, it is hard to see how, even years later, Jahar would be his "equal partner" in anything.

Also, here's a letter Dzhokhar submitted to UMass Dartmouth in January, 2013 in an application to have his financial aid reinstated: [More....]

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Tsarnaev Convicted on All Counts

The jury found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty on all 30 counts today.

The Boston Globe, in an editorial, urges a life sentence.

For jurors who believe execution should be reserved for the worst criminals, the lawyers laid out a clear path to conclude Dzhokhar wasn’t even the worst of the Tsarnaevs.

....Tsarnaev was 19 at the time of the bombing; he was apparently a heavy drug user; he had no prior criminal record. By themselves, none of these would seem like a particularly good reason to spare him, but taken as a whole, and alongside evidence of his brother’s dominant role, they should plant seeds of doubt.

[More...]

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Govt Rests in Tsarnaev Trial

The Government ended its case in the Boston Marathon bombing trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with gory photos of the autopsy of child victim Martin Richards. At least three jurors cried, according to reporters tweeting from the courtroom.

An FBI photographer testified earlier this morning about where Tsarnaev was standing in relation to Richards. The Government tried to make the argument that Tsarnaev deliberately targeted the 8 year old. On cross, the defense showed other photos that had two people standing between Jahar and the boy, and pointed out Jahar walked away right after the first bomb went off, while the Richards family stayed where they were.

The witness used a diagram that, at the direction of the government, didn't depict the other people standing between Jahar and Richards. On Cross: [More...]

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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.

[More...]

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Tsarnaev: FBI Agent Clueless on Tweets

In the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial today, defense attorney Miriam Conrad reportedly shredded the testimony of FBI agent David Kimball about tweeting during cross-examination. Yesterday, Kimball testifed to a second twitter account Dzhokhar had called Ghuraba and read tweets from it as well as from his first account. The goal was to make Dzkhokhar seem like a "radicalized killer."

That fell apart today. Among other things, Kimball misidentified a mosque in Grozny as Mecca. He didn't know that many of the tweets were rap song lyrics or were quotes from Comedy Central and other shows. He didn't know the meaning of many slang words. (He guessed "mad cooked" meant crazy. It means high.) He admitted he hadn't even looked up the tweets he was testifying about. He just went with what prosecutors gave him. [More...]

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Tsarnaev: Judy Clarke's Opening Statement

Here are some quotes from reporters in the courtroom who listened to Judy Clarke's opening statement in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's trial: Catherine Parrotta, Fox News and Jim Armstrong of WBZ (CBS):

"We meet in the most tragic of circumstances."

The circumstances that bring us here today still are difficult to grasp, are incomprehensible, are inexcusable.

For the next several weeks we are all going to come face to face with unbearable grief. We're going to see it, feel it, and agonize with every witness

"We will not sidestep Tsarnaev's responsibility for his actions" [More...]

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All White Jury Chosen in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Trial

The jury has been selected and opening arguments begin tomorrow in the death penalty trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, charged with the Boston Marathon bombings. According to media reports, all of the 18 jurors and alternates are white. (More than 1,300 people were initially summoned for potential jury service in the case.)

The defense filed a motion a few weeks ago challenging the jury pool, saying the juror groups had been reordered by the court resulting in a statistically lower pool of minority jurors. [More...]

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Tsarnaev Trial to Stay in Boston

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has denied Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's request to order his trial moved from Boston due to the inability to seat a fair and impartial jury. The vote was 2 to 1:

In a dissenting opinion, Circuit Judge Juan R. Torruella wrote that media coverage from the date of the bombing through the current pre-trial process has been “unparalleled in American legal history,” and that in the face of such publicity “it is absurd to suggest that Tsarnaev will receive a fair and impartial trial in the Eastern Division of the District of Massachusetts.”

[More...]

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Trial: Jury Selection Begins

Prospective jurors arrived at the federal courthouse in Boston this morning to fill out lengthy juror questionnaires for the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

In December, the Government and defense agreed on the explanatory remarks the judge should make when explaining the process to them. While the judge may have made some modifications, you can can read them here to get a general idea of what they were told.

Here is a good primer from the ABA on jury questionnaires.[More...]

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Appears in Court

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, accused of committing the Boston Marathan bombing, was in court this morning. Reporters in the courtroom are live-tweeting. Almost all say he appeared much more alert, interested and engaged in the proceedings than at his prior appearance. He smiled when talking to his attorney Judy Clarke.

He wore slacks and a sweater, not an orange jumpsuit. He has a short beard and his hair is longer than at his last appearance.

As I wrote Monday, the Government asked for him to appear so that he could be quizzed about whether he is satisfied with his counsel, in case he is convicted and claims differently in an appeal. Today Dzhokhar (aka Jahar) assured the court he was satisfied with his attorneys, answering "Very much so." (One reporter tweeted he answered "Pretty much" and another said he responded "Yes Sir." Are they attending the same proceeding?)

One reporter said the Judge ruled the witness lists will be sealed until the jury is seated. Another said the judge said he will release the list on Dec. 28. [More...]

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: 17 Months Later

It has been 17 months since the public has seen Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. At the request of prosecutors, he will make his first court appearance since July, 2013 this week. I wrote a long post on his incredibly restrictive jail conditions back in April, 2013, describing the SAMS ("special administrative measures") imposed on him.

Yahoo News has a detailed update, which I highly recommend reading. [More...]

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Robel Phillipos: Guilty Verdict on Five of Nine Alleged Statements

Robel Phillipos has been found guilty of making five of the nine false statements alleged in the Indictment. The jury found he lied about both false statements charged in Count 1 and three of the nine statements charged in Count 2. He will remain on bond and house arrest through sentencing.

Shorter version: He did not lie about what he saw or heard in the dorm room. He lied about not being in the dorm room at all, and learning afterwards that his friends had taken the backpack from the dorm room. He did not lie when he denied discussing get rid of the backpack with his friends. The jury rejected the FBI's "written confession" by Robel. [More...]

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