UPDATE: Bombs suspect charged with conspiring to use weapon of mass destruction, could face death

The Canadian Press
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A makeshift memorial sits on Boylston St., not far from where two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, on Monday, April 15, 2013.

BOSTON — The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings has been charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and could face a death sentence, the U.S. Attorney General said.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement detailed the charge against 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is listed in serious but stable condition.

Tsarnaev made his first appearance before a magistrate judge in Beth Israel hospital, according to Gary Wente, circuit executive of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Officials say Tsarnaev and his older brother and suspected co-conspirator, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, set off the twin explosions at Monday’s marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 180 others.

The White House, meanwhile, said Tsarnaev will not be tried as an enemy combatant in a military tribunal because he is a naturalized U.S. citizen. The Tsarnaev brothers were born in sourthern Russia.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be prosecuted in the federal court system.

Tsarnaev is a naturalized U.S. citizen and under U.S. law U.S. citizens cannot be tried in military commissions, Carney said. Carney said that since Sept. 11, 2001, the federal court system has been used to convict and incarcerate hundreds of terrorists.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev remained unable to speak with a gunshot wound to the throat, and he was expected to be charged by federal authorities and face separate state charges in the fatal shooting of a university police officer.

Seven days after the bombings, the city planned to mark the traumatic week with mournful silence and a return to its bustling commute.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has asked residents to observe a moment of silence at 2:50 p.m. local time Monday, the time the first of the two bombs exploded near the finish line. Bells will ring across the city and state after the minute-long tribute to the victims.

The White House said President Barack Obama would observe the moment of silence Monday. The president will mark the moment privately at the White House, with no media coverage.

Authorities on Friday had made the unprecedented request that residents stay at home during the manhunt for Tsarnaev. He was discovered that evening hiding in a boat covered by a tarp in suburban Watertown. His older brother Tamerlan was earlier killed during a furious getaway attempt.

“It’s surreal,” said Barbara Alton, as she walked her dog along Newbury Street. “But I feel like things are starting to get back to normal.”

Many Boston residents were heading back to workplaces and schools for the first time since a dramatic week came to an even more dramatic end. Traffic was building on major arteries into the city Monday morning.

In another sign of progress, city officials said they are beginning the process of reopening the public the six-block site around the bombing that killed three people and wounded more than 180. The announcement came Sunday, a day when people could still watch investigators at the crime scene work in white jumpsuits.

A private funeral was scheduled Monday for Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant worker killed in the blasts. A memorial service will be held that night at Boston University for 23-year-old Lu Lingzi, a graduate student from China.

City churches on Sunday paused to mourn the dead as the city’s police commissioner said the two suspects had such a large cache of weapons that they were probably planning other attacks. After the two brothers engaged in a gun battle with police early Friday, authorities found many unexploded homemade bombs at the scene, along with more than 250 rounds of ammunition.

On “Fox News Sunday,” he said authorities cannot be positive there are not more explosives somewhere that have not been found. But the people of Boston are safe, he insisted.

The brothers are ethnic Chechens from southern Russia and the motive for the bombings remained unclear.

Sen. Dan Coats of Indiana, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the surviving brother’s throat wound raised questions about when he will be able to talk again, if ever.

The wound “doesn’t mean he can’t communicate, but right now I think he’s in a condition where we can’t get any information from him at all,” Coats told ABC’s “This Week.”

It was not clear whether Tsarnaev was shot by police or inflicted the wound himself.

In the final standoff with police, shots were fired from the boat, but investigators have not determined where the gunfire was aimed, Davis said.

In an interview with The Associated Press, the parents of Tamerlan Tsarnaev insisted Sunday that he came to Dagestan and Chechnya last year to visit relatives and had nothing to do with the militants operating in the volatile part of Russia. His father said he slept much of the time.

A lawyer for Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s wife told the AP Sunday night that federal authorities have asked to speak with her, and that he is discussing with them how to proceed.

Attorney Amato DeLuca said Katherine Russell Tsarnaev did not suspect her husband of anything, and that there was no reason for her to have suspected him. He said she had been working 70 to 80 hours, seven days a week, as a home health care aide. While she was at work, her husband cared for their toddler daughter, he said.

The younger Tsarnaev could be charged any day. The most serious charge available to federal prosecutors would be the use of a weapon of mass destruction to kill people, which carries a possible death sentence. Massachusetts does not have the death penalty.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was tracing the suspects’ weapons to try to determine how they were obtained.

Neither of the brothers had permission to carry a gun. Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert Haas said it was unclear whether either of them ever applied for a gun permit, and the applications are not considered public records.

But the younger brother would have been denied a permit based on his age alone. Only people 21 or older are allowed gun licenses in Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, surgeons at a Cambridge hospital said the Boston transit police officer wounded in a shootout with the suspects had lost nearly all his blood, and his heart had stopped from a single gunshot wound that severed three major blood vessels in his right thigh.

Richard Donohue, 33, was in critical but stable condition. He is sedated and on a breathing machine but opened his eyes, moved his hands and feet and squeezed his wife’s hand Sunday.


Organizations: U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Beth Israel

Geographic location: BOSTON

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Recent comments

  • Read and watch the news
    April 22, 2013 - 15:07

    It would seem to me that these young men are more then suspects.They killed a police office and seriously wounded another. I doubt the news was making this up Bill Kays! Too many involved to make it up. Also there was a witness who had both legs blown off who was able to give a discription just before those packpacks blew up and took his legs with it.. You think they are still *suspects*? Oh they are more then Suspects..one of them is dead..the other captured..and in their home enough stuff to do it all over again. Innocent eh? the *poor* suspect!!!

    • Bill Kays
      April 22, 2013 - 18:38

      Gulf of Tonkin, Gladio, etc., etc, does the term "false flag" mean anything to you. Get educated. Main stream media is bought and paid for, showing government propaganda only. All the stories are the same, the talking points are the same. Try some ,real news, go to naturalnews.com there you will find truth.

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    April 22, 2013 - 14:27

    He is only a SUSPECT. Let us wait before convicting the poor SUSPECT. I would hold everything that the US and Canadian government states as suspect. I'm an old man now and let me tell you something that has been overlooked by those who preach taking back our nation from the scum that now owns us. I have watched for several decades now as the mindset of our youth has been changed by propaganda from our government. They did this through our learning institutions, through media, through social conditioning techniques and more. This coming war will not be fought between Patriots and the Government, it will be fought between the new age Canadians and the Patriots who love this country the way it was, not the way it is. I also see that most people miss this important point; our governments worked hard and long to breed a North American population that would one day support the Governments takeover of the people, we are now facing the beginning of this takeover.

    • Bob Sigma
      April 22, 2013 - 19:53

      Hey Bill Kays, who is that sneaking up behind you? Quick, turn around!! Sorry man, I was just messin' with your mind. You and your paranoid conspiracies are ripe for mockery. i have been noticing your comments are getting more and more out to lunch and you must feel the big bad world is closing in on you. Do you ever venture out of your basement or do you only visit the rest of the world through conspiracy websites?