Boston Bombing Suspect Pleads Not Guilty on All Counts

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BOSTON -- Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to all counts, including the use of a weapon of mass destruction, in his first appearance in public since he was captured hiding in a boat in a Boston suburb in April.

With his left arm in a cast, Mr. Tsarnaev stood before Judge Marianne B. Bowler, and at least 30 victims and survivors, and repeatedly said that he was "not guilty" of charges that he killed three people and wounded more than 260 others near the finish line of the 117th running of the marathon on April 15.

Mr. Tsarnaev, wearing an orange jumpsuit, was fidgety during the short hearing. His face appeared distorted at times, and his hair was unkempt. When he arrived he smiled at his sisters, who cried during much of the hearing. A few supporters murmured their approval as he entered his plea.

Mr. Tsarnaev, a 19-year-old ethnic Chechen and naturalized American citizen who in high school seemed to have a bright future, now faces the death penalty or life in prison if he is convicted. Federal prosecutors say he and his older brother Tamerlan detonated two pressure cookers filled with explosives and nails and other shrapnel near the finish line of the April 15 marathon. Prosecutors have also charged Mr. Tsarnaev in the shooting death of Sean A. Collier, a 27-year-old Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer, three nights after the bombings.

Mr. Tsarnaev was charged and read his rights while he lay in a Boston hospital bed one week after the bombings -- uttering the word "no" once and mostly nodding or shaking his head in response to questions -- and then indicted on 30 criminal counts on June 28. Law enforcement officials have said that the day before he was charged, he admitted to playing a role in the bombings and said that he and his brother had acted alone.

Mr. Tsarnaev has recently been confined to a medical facility at Fort Devens, a United States military base 40 miles west of Boston, where he has been treated for gunshot wounds sustained during the shootout and pursuit that led to his capture in Watertown, Mass.

Before the hearing, about half a dozen members of Mr. Tsarnaev's high-school wrestling team lined up outside the courtroom before the hearing was expected to begin, hoping for a glimpse of a once-familiar teammate who had now become a mystery.

"It's strange," said Shun Tsou, 20, who spent three years on the team with Mr. Tsarnaev. "I'm torn on the whole situation."

He said he was not sure yet whether he believed his former team captain was guilty, and he wanted to see what happened in court on Wednesday.

"I really want to see what his reaction is today," Mr. Tsou said, "if he doesn't care, if he does care -- I want to see."

The John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse here was shrouded in fog and surrounded by media trucks, as preparations were made inside for the arraignment. A small cadre of law enforcement officials, including members of the Boston Police Department's special operations team and a bomb-sniffing dog with an officer from the Department of Homeland Security police force, swept midmorning into Courtroom 10, where Mr. Tsarnaev is set to appear.

Next door, in Courtroom 11, jurors listened Wednesday morning to grisly testimony in the case against James (Whitey) Bulger, who was once South Boston's crime boss.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died early on the morning of April 19 after a gunfight with the police in Watertown, during which Dzhokhar drove over him as he escaped in a carjacked Mercedes S.U.V., according to the federal indictment.

Prosecutors say the brothers toted backpacks containing explosives-filled pressure cookers to the marathon finish line, placed them amid scores of spectators near the end of the race route, and scuttled away before the cookers exploded seconds apart at 2:49 p.m. The blasts sent nails and ball bearings ripping through flesh with such power that they sheared the legs off some victims.

Killed in the two marathon blasts were Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant manager from Medford who went to the marathon almost every year; Lu Lingzi, a 23-year-old Chinese graduate student who was studying statistics at Boston University and who had been eager to go to the famous sporting event in her new home; and Martin Richard, an 8-year-old third-grader from the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston who, according to one close family friend, was the one all the girls in school had a crush on.

Prosecutors say the bomb placed by Tamerlan killed Ms. Campbell, while the one set down by Dzhokhar struck the other two victims. Many spectators wounded in the blasts were left with grievous, life-altering injuries, and some surely would have died from blood loss and other factors had it not been for the first responders and the city's wealth of top-tier emergency rooms, medical experts say. Because the two blasts were low to the ground, the shrapnel mostly struck victims in the legs and feet and not the abdomen, head or chest, one reason there were not more fatalities.

Officer Collier was a well-regarded member of the M.I.T. force and was set to join the Somerville Police Department this summer. He was slain the night of April 18 -- about five hours after the F.B.I. posted pictures of the Tsarnaev brothers as bombing suspects -- when Dzhokhar and his brother shot him in the head at close range with a 9-millimeter handgun as they tried to steal his service firearm, prosecutors say.

That killing, they add, began the night and day of mayhem in Watertown that led to Tamerlan's death and Dzhokhar's capture.

In addition to the federal charges, Mr. Tsarnaev also faces a state indictment by a grand jury in Middlesex County -- which includes Cambridge, where Officer Collier was gunned down -- on more than a dozen state criminal charges, including the officer's murder.

The prosecutor said on Wednesday that 80 to 100 witnesses would be called for the trial, which is expected to last three or four months.


This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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