Boston Marathon bombing suspect faces two federal charges
Nancy Lane/Boston Herald/MCT
A woman looks over the memorial on Boylston Street on Monday. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bombing suspect, has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction.
BOSTON — The Justice Department on Monday publicly charged Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with using a weapon of mass destruction.
In unsealed court filings that shed new light on what investigators think happened before, during and after the lethal explosions on April 15, prosecutors charged Tsarnaev with one count of using and conspiring to use a WMD resulting in death. The 19-year-old ethnic Chechen, a naturalized United States citizen, also was charged with one count of malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death.
If convicted on either federal charge, Tsarnaev faces the death penalty or life in prison. He also faces the possibility of state criminal charges as well, in connection with the bombings, which killed three people and wounded more than 200. Massachusetts has no death penalty.
“Although our investigation is ongoing, today’s charges bring a successful end to a tragic week for the city of Boston, and our country,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a prepared
In a ceremony Monday, the FBI turned Boylston Street, which had been considered a crime scene, back to the city. A bagpiper played as the flag that flew over the finish line during the race was presented to Mayor Thomas M. Menino. The street won’t be open to the public until buildings along it have been inspected for structural damage, city officials said.
The charges against Tsarnaev, filed under seal Sunday, were presented to him Monday in his room at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he has been listed in serious condition since his capture Friday. FBI officials said Monday that Tsarnaev was wounded in the head, neck, leg and hand after two shootouts with law enforcement officers.
“The government will always seek to elicit all the actionable intelligence and information we can from terrorist suspects taken into our custody,” said Carmen Ortiz, U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts.
At the same time, rejecting calls made by congressional Republicans, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration would not designate Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant. The designation would have permitted additional interrogation of Tsarnaev, but Carney said it was unnecessary.
“It is important to remember that since 9/11 we have used the federal court system to convict and incarcerate hundreds of terrorists,” Carney said.
Video reviewed by investigators appeared to show the Tsarnaev brothers carrying large knapsacks as they walked along Boylston Street about 11 minutes before the first explosion. Further video and still photographs reportedly show one of the brothers slipping off his knapsack in front of the Forum restaurant and walking away. About 30 seconds before the first explosion, Genck recounted, video shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appearing to talk on his cellphone.
“A few seconds after he finishes the call, the large crowd of people around him can be seen reacting to the first explosion,” Genck recounted, while Tsarnaev “virtually alone among the individuals in front of the restaurant appears calm.”
The video then shows Tsarnaev leaving his knapsack on the ground and walking away, Genck said. Ten seconds later, the second bomb exploded.
Investigators subsequently determined that both bombs were constructed from pressure cookers,
BBs and nails, a low-grade explosive and a fuse. A search of Tsarnaev’s dorm room at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth uncovered clothes that resembled those seen in the videos, as well a “a large pyrotechnic” and BBs, according to the affidavit.
“The mayhem they created is unheard of,” Menino said at a news conference Monday.