Bomb Suspect Is Charged and Could Face the Death Penalty

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BOSTON -- The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was charged on Monday with using a "weapon of mass destruction" that resulted in three deaths and more than 200 injuries, as law enforcement officials provided the most detailed account of the bombing to date.

The suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was charged in a criminal complaint and appeared before a federal magistrate who came to his bedside at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, officials said. Mr. Tsarnaev is being treated for what the court papers described as possible gunshot wounds to the "head, neck, legs, and hand." Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler advised Mr. Tsarnaev of his rights and the charges against him, according to a summary of the proceeding provided by the court.

In a criminal complaint unsealed Monday in United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Mr. Tsarnaev was charged with one count of "using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction" against persons and property within the United States resulting in death, and one count of "malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death" in last week's bombings.

If he is convicted of the charges, he could face the death penalty.

The brief bedside proceeding began when Judge Bowler asked a doctor whether Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was alert, according to a transcript of the proceeding.

"You can rouse him," the judge told the doctor.

"How are you feeling?" asked the doctor, identified in the transcript as Dr. Odom. "Are you able to answer some questions?"

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev "nods affirmatively," according to the transcript, the first of four times during the proceeding, which in addition to the judge and the doctor was attended by two federal prosecutors, three public defenders, the judge's clerk and a court reporter.

The only word Dzhokhar Tsarnaev uttered apparently was "No," after he was asked if he could afford a lawyer.

Judge Bowler said, "Let the record reflect that I believe the defendant has said, 'No.' "

One of the federal defenders representing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, William Fick, said that he would defer the question of bail, and agree to voluntary detention. One of the prosecutors, William Weinreb, said that the government was seeking to have the defendant detained pending trial.

At the end of the session, Judge Bowler said: "At this time, at the conclusion of the initial appearance, I find that the defendant is alert, mentally competent, and lucid. He is aware of the nature of the proceedings."

The affidavit accompanying the criminal complaint provided the fullest picture to date of the evidence collected so far by F.B.I. agents and police detectives, who have been working around the clock since two blasts seconds apart wrought chaos along the marathon's route.

It also gave new details about the violent last hours that the bombing suspects spent on the run: from a carjacking late Thursday night to a pitched gun battle with the police Friday morning that left Mr. Tsarnaev's older brother, Tamerlan, 26, dead, to the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Friday evening as he lay, hidden and wounded, in a boat in the backyard of a home in Watertown, Mass.

The affidavit, sworn out by Daniel R. Genck, an F.B.I. special agent assigned to the Joint Terrorist Task Force in Boston, cites surveillance video as it details the movements the brothers made around the time of the marathon bombings. It said that the explosive devices -- which it describes as "low-grade explosives that were housed in pressure cookers" that also contained "metallic BB's and nails" -- were placed near metal barriers along Boylston Street, where hundreds of spectators were watching runners as they approached the finish line.

In chilling detail taken from surveillance video, the affidavit describes how a man it refers to as "Bomber Two," which it identifies as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, walks down Boylston Street toward the finish line with the thumb of his right hand hooked under the strap of his knapsack, and a cellphone in his left hand. "He then can be seen apparently slipping his knapsack onto the ground," the affidavit said. "A photograph taken from the opposite side of the street shows the knapsack on the ground at Bomber Two's feet."

Video from a nearby restaurant, Forum, shows the bomber remaining in place, checking his cellphone, and even appearing to take a picture with it, the papers said. Then he seems to check his phone again, and speak on it.

"A few seconds after he finishes the call, the large crowd of people around him can be seen reacting to the first explosion," the court papers said. "Virtually every head turns to the east (towards the finish line) and stares in that direction in apparent bewilderment and alarm. Bomber Two, virtually alone among the individuals in front of the restaurant, appears calm. He glances to the east and then calmly but rapidly begins moving to the west, away from the direction of the finish line."

"He walks away without his knapsack, having left it on the ground where he had been standing," the court papers said. "Approximately 10 seconds later, an explosion occurs in the location where Bomber Two had placed his knapsack."

The agent added: "I can discern nothing in that location in the period before the explosion that might have caused that explosion, other than Bomber Two's knapsack."

In the court papers, Agent Genck said that he compared driver's license photos of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to the video images, and that he believed "based on their close physical resemblance, there is probable cause that they are one and the same person." He also identified the other bomber, called "Bomber One" in court papers, as Mr. Tsarnaev's brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Mr. Genck also described how, just seven hours after the F.B.I. had released their pictures and sought the public's help in identifying them, the brothers emerged shortly before midnight in Cambridge, Mass., when a man was carjacked at gunpoint.

"Did you hear about the Boston explosion?" the affidavit said that one of the suspects told the carjacking victim. "I did that."

The suspect forced the victim to drive to another location, the affidavit said, where they picked up the other brother, and placed something in the car's trunk. The driver was then moved to the passenger seat, while the two suspects conversed in a foreign language, it said.

The affidavit said that the two men took $45 from the driver, and then took his A.T.M. card and password and tried to withdraw money from his account. They then drove to a Shell gas station on Memorial Drive in Cambridge where, when the two suspects got out of the car, the driver escaped.

The stolen vehicle was located soon after that in Watertown, Mass. As the two suspects drove down Dexter Street in Watertown, they tossed at least two small improvised explosive devices from the car window, the affidavit said. When the police caught up with the men on Laurel Street, a gunfight broke out between the suspects and law enforcement officers in which "numerous shots were fired,'' the affidavit said.

One of the suspects -- later identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev -- was severely wounded and was left behind on the ground at the scene while the other suspect escaped in the vehicle. The vehicle was found abandoned a short distance away, the affidavit said, with what was described as an "intact low-grade explosive device" inside it. At the scene of the shootout on Laurel Street, the F.B.I. found two unexploded improvised explosive devices and the remnants of "numerous" exploded devices, the affidavit said.

Those explosive provided more clues: the remnants were similar to those found at the scene of the marathon bombings -- and at least one was in a pressure cooker, the affidavit said. "The pressure cooker was of the same brand as the ones used in the Marathon explosions," it said, noting that it "also contained metallic BBs contained within an adhesive material as well as green-colored hobby fuse,'' like in the marathon bombs.

The affidavit said that investigators later found clothing in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dorm room at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth that matched the clothing of the bombing suspect captured on video at the marathon.

F.B.I. interrogators had been communicating with Mr. Tsarnaev, who is in the hospital with what investigators believe is a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the neck, according to a law enforcement official. What Mr. Tsarnaev has said -- it was unclear if he was able to speak, or had been communicating with the investigators in writing -- has led investigators to believe that there are no other conspirators at large or unexploded devices that have not been recovered, the official said.

American officials have also been pressing the Russian government for more details about a Russian request to the F.B.I. in 2011 about whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev had any links to extremist groups. The official described the Russians as "cooperative."

The White House said earlier Monday that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev would not be tried as an enemy combatant. "We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice," said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary.

Mr. Carney noted that it was illegal to try an American citizen in a military commission, and that a number of high-profile terrorism cases were handled in the civilian court system, including that of the would-be bomber who tried to bring down a passenger jet around Christmas 2009 with explosives in his underwear.

Mr. Carney said the government had gotten "valuable intelligence" from suspects kept in the civilian judicial process. "The system has repeatedly proven it can handle" such cases, he said.

The charges were announced soon after hundreds of mourners attended a funeral at St. Joseph Church in Medford for Krystle Campbell, the 29-year-old restaurant manager killed near the finish line of the marathon, a race she tried to see every year.

Julie Dziamba, 21, who had worked at a restaurant called the Summer Shack where Ms. Campbell had been a manager, traveled from New London, N.H., to pay her respects. "She always had a smile on her face," Ms. Dziamba said, "even if she was mad at us for not cleaning up or getting things done on time."

A statewide moment of silence was observed at 2:50 p.m., exactly a week after the deadly explosions brought a bloody end to the 117th running of the Boston Marathon. And a memorial was scheduled for Monday night at Boston University, where students, faculty and staff members were set to gather in honor of Lu Lingzi, 23, a Chinese graduate student who was killed in the bombing.

A memorial for Sean A. Collier, 26, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology patrol officer who law enforcement officials believe was shot dead in his patrol car Thursday night by the Tsarnaev brothers, was being planned for Wednesday, a university official said. The federal affidavit unsealed on Monday made no mention of the shooting of Officer Collier.

Richard A. Oppel Jr. reported from Boston, and Michael Cooper and William K. Rashbaum from New York. Jess Bidgood contributed reporting from Boston, and Peter Baker from Washington.


This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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