Evidence mounts against lone survivor

Marathon bomb suspect faces uphill battle defending act of terror
Associated Press
Apr 24, 2013

There are photos of the suspect at the bomb scene, video footage of him dropping a knapsack at the site of one of the blasts, and perhaps most incriminating could be the written words of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev himself during questioning in a Boston hospital. A case with evidence like this may be the toughest challenge a lawyer can face: defending someone accused of an act of terror so horrific a nation cries out for swift, severe punishment.

Attorneys who handle terrorism and other notorious cases say public opinion is stacked against the defense for obvious reasons. Acts of terrorism unleash an outpouring of anger from the public, including potential jurors. In Boston, the circumstances are especially egregious: Three people, including an 8-year-old boy, died in the twin blasts, more than 260 were injured, and a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer was later fatally shot.

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Some lawyers say that in this case, the surveillance evidence and a police shootout make a "he wasn't there" innocence claim untenable — and keeping Tsarnaev out of the execution chamber may itself be a triumph.

"The reality is you just try to save his life," said Thomas A. Durkin, a Chicago lawyer who has defended several terrorism suspects, including Ramzi bin al Shibh, one of the alleged plotters in the 9/11 attacks now being held in Guantanamo.

Durkin said there are several steps the defense can take: Hire top-notch investigators, look for possible psychiatric issues or brain damage and scour for potential vulnerabilities in how the government collected evidence. But he said the biggest hurdles for lawyers, clearly, are the bombings and the ensuing horror.

"It's just an unspeakable crime," Durkin said. "It strikes at the heart of a free society. It strikes fear into everyone. It's just an awful, awful situation — people standing, watching a race one second and having no feet after that. I can't imagine worse evidence."

Frank Rubino, a Miami defense attorney who represented former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega on drug conspiracy charges, agreed it wouldn't make sense to deny the younger Tsarnaev's involvement, but attorneys could try to spare his life by focusing on his age — 19 — and possible coercion by his older brother, Tamerlan, 26, who was killed Friday in a fierce police shootout.

"To take this case to trial and argue that he didn't plant the bomb and someone else did it would be futile," Rubino said in an email. "The evidence of both flight from the police and the shootout will come in evidence as 'consciousness of guilt.' How can one explain that conduct? Innocent people don't throw bombs at the cops, shoot it out with the cops and hide."

Tsarnaev was charged Monday with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill in the April 15 bombings. He could face the death penalty if convicted. He was questioned in his Boston hospital room by a special interrogation team for high-value suspects.

Two U.S. officials said preliminary evidence from that interrogation suggests the brothers were motivated by religious extremism but apparently were not involved with Islamic terrorist groups. Tsarnaev communicated with his interrogators in writing, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.

An FBI affidavit released Monday reveals incriminating evidence against Tsarnaev, including surveillance-camera footage that shows him raising his mobile phone to his ear just before the two blasts. After the first explosion, a block away, as the horrified crowd turned in that direction, he appeared calm. He then quickly walked away, leaving a knapsack on the ground. About 10 seconds later, the FBI said, a bomb blew up where he'd been standing.

Authorities also have said they found a "large pyrotechnic" and BB pellets during a search of his dorm room at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth on Sunday. Among the shrapnel that struck victims were BBs.

It's far too soon to say what defense strategy Tsarnaev's lawyers will use. The federal public defender for Massachusetts, Miriam Conrad, has been appointed to represent him. Conrad is expected to be the lead attorney, but the office will bring in at least one, if not two lawyers, with death penalty experience.

Thomas H. Dupree Jr., a Washington, D.C., lawyer, says in most cases with so much evidence, the defense might consider an insanity defense, but that would be very difficult here. "This appears to be a carefully calculated, malevolent plot," he said.

Without that option, he said the defense could seek to enter a guilty plea in a deal to avoid the death penalty. "They may make the argument that he was not the ringleader and was under the spell of his brother," Dupree said. "I don't know how successful that would be."

The focus now should be on gathering the facts, he said. "If you're his lawyer you want to find out if there are any mitigating circumstances that might change the public view of him," Dupree added. "If the facts turn out to be what we see now, their focus should be on saving his life."

___

Associated Press writers Curt Anderson in Miami, Linda Deutsch in Los Angeles and Denise Lavoie in Boston contributed to this report.

 

Comments

arnmcrmn

This isn't about the Iraq war....get over it...kinda like you tell everyone to get over the election. Bahahaha..

shucks

arnmcrmn
Follow the thread then crawl back in your hole...Bahahaha..

The Big Dog's back

Prove it winnie.

Contango

Let's also remember Saddam's use of WMD during the Iran-Iraq War:

"...extensive use of chemical weapons such as mustard gas by the Iraqi government against Iranian troops, civilians, and Iraqi Kurds."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ira...

The Big Dog's back

Off topic again winnie.

goofus

You people brought this on yourself, he was after all taxpayer funded

http://theblacksphere.net/2013/0...

goofus

For 4shizzle and deertracker and the rest of the history rewriters

http://kdp.se/old/chemical.html

shucks

Thanks to 'poppy' Bush betraying the Kurds.

Talk about rewriting... maroon.

goofus

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I...

Probably missed this unstaged no teleprompter moment

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P...

Contango

@ goofus:

Sad.

They're probably also Holocaust deniers like their hero Saddam.

While patrolling the No-Fly Zone, it was only a matter of time before one of our aircraft was hit by SAMs or AA fire - then what?

deertracker

Yes, he did use chemical weapons on the Kurds years before America invaded them so what exactly is your point doofus? That was not the reason given for invading Iraq!

shucks

Thanks for getting rid of Saddam after your daddy screwed everything up for us !

Contango

"Thanks to 'poppy' Bush betraying the Kurds.

Talk about rewriting... maroon."

@ goofus:

Really sad about the moronic nature of the "History challenged." The attack occurred in 1988 BEFORE the Gulf War.

Probably thinks WWII occurred in the 19th Century.

The Big Dog's back

Gee, who was in charge of the U. S. in 1988? Hmmmmmm. Let me think ...... Oh yeah, Poppy bush and ronnie raygun.

shucks

LOL ronnie raygun !

Contango

Regime change in Iraq was the stated policy of the U.S. beginning in 1998.

"The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 is a United States Congressional statement of policy calling for regime change in Iraq.

It was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, and states that it is the policy of the United States to support democratic movements within Iraq.

The Act was cited in October 2002 to argue for the authorization of military force against the Iraqi government."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ira...

Both Pres. Clinton and VP Gore said at the time that Saddam had WMD.

The Big Dog's back

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Profane, obscene, sexual or derogatory language.

deertracker

Now why would America want to change the regime in Iraq?

Contango

Of course you're right: History can be tough to understand for those with an Obama man-crush.

deertracker

History and truth can also be totally overlooked by those that are drowning in hate. Spin it all you want, fact is the American people were lied to and those that refuse to admit it are just clueless. History has been proven to be wrong but in your case it is just denial. How pitiful you are!

Contango

You spew ideology not knowledge.

The reasons for and the causes of events like the Great Depression and WWII are still being debated.

Unless you are God and are omniscient, for someone to say that they know ALL the who, what, when, where, why and how of past events only demonstrates ignorance.

arnmcrmn

The most recent huge lie that will have horrible effects on our economy and healthcare.....Obamacare.......of course, you remember, we have to pass it first to find out whats in it........Nanci Pelosi.

Contango

VP Biden at memorial service for the slain M.I.T. officer:

"But all kidding aside..."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K...

Obama and Biden: The puppet and the nutzy wannabe comedian.

shucks

clowntango + computer = crazy man at computer

goofus

Smart as a whip you are LOL. Is your retort your own or did you get help from a parental unit!!!!

shucks

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Off-topic comments.

goofus

And yet he continues with his rapier wit and is just a real class act.

shucks

I feel the love.

arnmcrmn

Im telling you guys.....don't give in to their hypocrisy (liberals). When they know they are wrong, they can't simply MAN UP. They have to deflect. You guys let this topic get way off course.

Ignore them, read between their BS and lets have a convo about this idiot bomber.

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