The trial of Jahar Tsarnaev is not without a few surprises.
BOSTON, March 31, 2015 – Following 15 days of testimony, the prosecution has rested its case against Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar “Jahar” Tsarnaev.
During opening statements, defense counsel admitted that Jahar Tsarnaev conspired with older brother Tamerlan to carry out the bombing attacks on April 15, 2013. The brothers used two pressure cooker bombs that exploded approximately 12 seconds and 210 yards (190 meters) apart, killing three people and injuring some 264 others near the Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street.
Evidence presented by the prosecution supports the defendant’s admissions. However, there were some surprises during testimony.
- The bombs were not detonated by cellphones
Initially, authorities speculated that the Tsarnaev brothers might have detonated the Boylston Street bombs using cellphone technology. During the trial, FBI explosive experts testified that the bombs were remotely detonated using components of remote-controlled vehicles.
Although the detonators for the Boylston Street bombs were never recovered, a remote detonator allegedly fashioned by the suspects was recovered at the scene of the April 19, 2013, shoot-out in Watertown.
- A witness placed Jahar at MIT Officer Sean Collier’s police cruiser
On April 18, 2013, MIT Police Officer Sean Collier was found dead behind the wheel of his cruiser, shot multiple times in the head. According to the medical examiner, the fatal shots entered Collier’s temple and forehead on the side of Collier’s skull that was closer to the driver’s side door.
This is important because an MIT graduate student testified he saw Jahar bent over and leaning into the driver’s side window of Collier’s cruiser approximately two minutes before the shooting happened.
However, none of the other witnesses or video footage conclusively identified either Tsarnaev brother as being at the scene on the night of Officer Collier’s murder.
- The gun used to kill Officer Collier came from a Madarati gang member
Stephen Silva, identified as Jahar’s best friend, testified that at some point in February, he provided Jahar with the Ruger pistol allegedly used to kill Collier. Silva, who is in jail facing 160 years in prison if convicted on drug and weapons charges, told jurors that he obtained the gun from a friend named “Howie.”
According to ABC News, the Ruger was purchased in November 2011 at a gun store in Maine by Madarati gang member Danny Sun Jr. Sun gave the gun to convicted drug dealer Biniam “Icy” Tsegai. Tsegai passed the gun to Merhawi “Howie” Berhe, who gave it to Silva after his mother found it while searching his room (Howie lives in his mother’s home).
Earlier this month, Berhe was charged possessing a firearm with an “obliterated” serial number.
In testimony from February 2013, Jahar borrowed the gun from Silva, with whom he had previously dealt “weed” and who at the time was out on bail while facing drug charges. Silva told jurors although he knew Jahar intended to use the weapon to “hold up some kids at URI,” he had no idea Jahar would use it to kill a policeman.
Just days before the bombings, Jahar and a person named Dias Kadyrbayev obtained marijuana from Silva, who continued to sell drugs up until his recent incarceration.
- Apple iPhones, iPods and a MacBook were recovered
During the investigation into the Boston Marathon Bombings, the FBI seized at least three iPhones, two iPods, and one MacBook from the Tsarnaev brothers’ cars and homes.
Dun Meng testified that it was Tamerlan who carjacked him at gunpoint in his Mercedes on the night of April 18. Later that evening, Jahar met Meng and Tamerlan in Watertown. Meng testified that while he was alone in the car with Tamerlan, Tamerlan admitted to him responsibility for both the Boston Marathon Bombings and Officer Collier’s murder.
Meng also said that Tamerlan told him that the brothers intended to drive Meng’s stolen Mercedes SUV to New York City, where they planned to carry out more terrorist attacks.
Meng also told jurors it was Jahar who specifically asked him if he could use Meng’s iPhone to play music. The two were in Meng’s stolen Mercedes as they trekked back to Watertown to retrieve a CD and a GPS navigation system from the Tsarnaev’s Honda Civic.
Meng said that Tamerlan also used Meng’s iPhone to look up words in Chinese.
At approximately 12:15 a.m., the Mercedes stopped at a Shell gas station in Cambridge, just blocks from where police officers were still combing the streets looking for Officer Collier’s assailant. Meng fled the car while Jahar was inside the station’s convenience store buying snacks and Tamerlan fiddled with the Garmin Neuvi GPS he had retrieved from his Civic.
Meng sought shelter at a Mobil station across the street and told responding police that he intentionally left his iPhone in the Mercedes because the phone’s location system might help the police track the suspects after they drove off in his car.
- Tsarnaev brothers were amateur bombers
After the gunfight, police recovered four pipe bombs and two pressure cooker bombs. Only two of the four pipe bombs thrown at the police exploded. An FBI bomb expert testified that the pressure cooker bomb found at the scene embedded in the side of a car did not explode so much as “act as a projectile,” and pieces of the bomb were found strewn about the neighborhood.
The handle of the pressure cooker was found embedded in the siding of a Laurel Street house.
Watertown police officer Dennis Simmons was injured by one of the five explosives thrown at the police. He died a year later of undisclosed causes.
- It is a “miracle” that more “innocents” were not killed
During the early morning hours of April 19, 2013, the Cambridge police used the Mercedes’ anti-theft system to track the Tsarnaev brothers to Laurel Street in Watertown, where the police exchanged more than 300 bullets with the Tsarnaev brothers. Tamerlan was shot several times by police before being run over by Jahar as he fled the scene in the stolen Mercedes.
According to his death certificate, Tamerlan was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at a hospital at 1:35 a.m.
FBI ballistics experts testified that 56 spent casings were traced back to the Ruger pistol in Tamerlan’s possession at the time of his death. Although a BB gun was also found at the scene, no gun was ever found to have been in Jahar’s possession at the crime scenes in Watertown.
No officers or innocent bystanders were hurt by Tamerlan’s gunfire. According to CNN, at least two police officers were likely injured by friendly fire at the Watertown scene.
According to Dr. Heather Studley, self-deployed MBTA Officer Richard Donahue bled out and was “essentially dead” when he arrived in the emergency room on the morning of the shoot-out. Studley said Donohue’s life was saved by first responders, who provided 40 minutes of CPR to maintain his vital signs.
Bullets that did not find human targets were found embedded in the interior walls of the homes on Laurel Street and in the second-floor bedrooms and offices. One was just feet from a child’s bed. Experts testified none of those bullets came from Tsarnaev’s Ruger.
- Tamerlan Tsarnaev kept evidence of his bomb making purchases
According to evidence recovered by the FBI, in March 2013, the GPS seized from Tamerlan’s car led the driver on a journey to three Wal-Marts in New Hampshire found listed on the back of receipts found in Tamerlan’s wallet. The Wal-Marts were identified as the locations where the [tax-free] BBs used to make the bombs were purchased. A receipt for a BB gun purchase was recovered from Jahar’s dorm room.
According to FBI testimony, the police seized several receipts from Tamerlan’s car and home in Cambridge and from Jahar’s dorm room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. Receipts were also recovered from Tamerlan’s wallet, which was found behind the driver’s side seat of the Civic after the Watertown shootings.
On the night of Collier’s murder, Tamerlan carried with him a mere $19 in cash.
The FBI used the dates and times on the receipts to match them to the coordinates found on a GPS navigation system found in Tamerlan’s car. The receipts show that all of the items were purchased with cash.
Tamerlan also kept receipts for the remote control car purchases, allegedly used to create the detonators, as well as receipts from Home Depot for a soldering kit and a screwdriver set. Also found in Tamerlan’s wallet were a $40 receipt for ammunition purchased at a New Hampshire gun range and Target receipts for the purchase of two backpacks and a $900 MoneyGram wired to his mother on the day before the bombings.
According to surveillance video, Tamerlan was alone when he purchased the backpacks.
The prosecution theorized the Tsarnaev brothers were “radicalized” Muslims who committed the bombings in a horrifically misguided effort to earn themselves a special place in heaven (“Jannah”).
Although the receipts carefully maintained by the Tsarnaev brothers have been helpful to the FBI in linking them to the crimes, the question remains why these “lone wolves” kept the evidence of their homicidal but not suicidal mission.Click here for reuse options!
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