Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Enters Not Guilty Pleas In 1st Public Court Hearing
BOSTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 counts, including use of a weapon of mass destruction to kill.
Wearing an orange jumpsuit, and with a bandaged left arm and what appeared to be a wound on the left side of his face, he entered the plea Wednesday in federal court in Boston in a court proceeding that lasted just seven minutes, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
For the first one, he leaned toward a microphone and said, “Not guilty,” in a Russian accent. He then said “not guilty” repeatedly about a half-dozen more times.
Survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing, families of the victims, police officers and others watched as the young man who could face the death penalty for the attack appeared in court for the first time since he was found bleeding and hiding in a boat in a suburb days after the April 15 explosion.
The bombings killed three people and wounded more than 260.
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The 30-count indictment against Tsarnaev includes 17 charges carrying the death penalty or life imprisonment. Aside from bombing-related counts, it also contains charges covering the slaying of a police officer and the carjacking of a motorist during the getaway attempt that left Tsarnaev’s older brother and alleged co-conspirator, Tamerlan, dead.
The courthouse was jammed for the 19-year-old Tsarnaev’s appearance. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said space was reserved in the main courtroom for victims’ families, but she wouldn’t indicate how many planned to attend.
Brothers Paul and J.P. Norden each lost a leg at the marathon finish line, but did not attend Wednesday’s arraignment.
“Me going to court and seeing him is not going to get me better, so, no, it doesn’t matter to me right now,” J.P. Norden said.
However, the brothers’ mother, Liz, was there to confront the teenager who she says ruined her sons’ lives.
“My boys woke up completely normal; they went to watch the marathon. And then our lives were turned upside-down and inside-out,” she said.
She said she was furious upon seeing Tsarnaev.
“I actually felt sick to my stomach. It was very emotional for me,” Liz Norden said. “I’m angry, but I actually feel sorry for everybody. I was upset when the sister cried.”
Court officials set aside an overflow courtroom to broadcast the hearing for the media. Reporters and spectators began lining up for seats in the courtroom at 7:30 a.m. as a dozen Federal Protective Service officers and bomb-sniffing dogs surrounded the courthouse.
Four hours before the hearing, Tsarnaev arrived at the courthouse in a four-vehicle motorcade that included a van, a Humvee and a state police car.
A group of about a dozen Tsarnaev supporters cheered as the motorcade arrived. The demonstrators yelled “Justice for Jahar,” as Tsarnaev is known. One woman held a sign that said, “Free Jahar.”
The hearing was Tsarnaev’s first public appearance since his April 19 arrest. His initial court appearance took place at a hospital, where he was recovering from injuries suffered in a shootout with police the day before in the Boston suburb of Watertown.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following a shootout with police after being run over by his brother as he was escaping in a hijacked car, authorities said.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found the next day after a lockdown in Watertown was lifted and a local homeowner noticed blood on the dry-docked boat.
After the April 15 attack at the Boston Marathon, officials said the two brothers planned to come to New York City to detonate their remaining explosives in Times Square, but they were unable to carry out their alleged plan.
Tsarnaev’s arrest stunned those who knew him as a likable high school athlete in Cambridge, where he lived with his older brother after his parents left for Russia.
But prosecutors say Tsarnaev, a Muslim, wrote about his motivations for the bombing on the inside walls and beams of the boat where he was hiding.
He wrote the U.S. government was “killing our innocent civilians.”
“I don’t like killing innocent people,” he said, but also wrote: “I can’t stand to see such evil go unpunished. We Muslims are one body — you hurt one you hurt us all.”
The indictment also said that, sometime before the bombings, Tsarnaev downloaded Internet material from Islamic extremists that advocated violence against the perceived enemies of Islam.
“The defendant’s alleged conduct forever changed lives. The victims, their families and this community have shown extraordinary strength and resilience in this face of this senseless violence,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz.
Three people — Martin Richard, 8; Krystle Marie Campbell, 29; and Lingzi Lu, 23 — were killed by the bombs, which were improvised from pressure cookers.
Authorities say the Tsarnaevs also killed MIT officer Sean Collier days later while they were on the run.
“It was very difficult to look at him,” MIT Police Chief John DiFava said of seeing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. “It was very, very hard. I think in the very obvious way, seeing someone the murdered someone who meant a lot to you and the department. He was a punk. He showed no remorse. That’s what my impression was.”
But some people who knew Tsarnaev, including former classmate Britney Gillis, were still surprised he was accused of such a horrific act.
“Mixed emotions — I don’t know what to think exactly,” Gillis said. “I think it was wrong what he did, but maybe he was influenced by his older brother.”
Numerous bombing victims had legs amputated after the two explosions, which detonated along the final stretch of the race a couple of hours after the elite runners had finished.
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