Boston Bombing Suspect Charged
(CNN) — Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been charged with using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and one count of malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death, the Justice Department announced Monday. The 19-year-old Tsarnaev had his initial appearance before a judge in his hospital room at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and a public defender was appointed to represent him.
Authorities are asking the 19-year-old if there are more bombs, explosives caches or weapons, and if anyone else was involved, the source said. Investigators are going into Tsarnaev’s room every few hours to ask questions in the presence of doctors, the source said.
It wasn’t immediately clear what he may be communicating. At some point before the initial court appearance, Tsarnaev was read his Miranda rights, which Bowler then reviewed with him at the hearing, according to two government sources.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler scheduled a probable cause hearing for May 30.
Tsarnaev had been shot in the head, neck, legs and one hand, according to an FBI affidavit supporting the charges. He had lost a lot of blood and may have hearing loss from two flash-bang devices used to draw him out of the boat, the source said.
It wasn’t clear whether Tsarnaev was wounded during his capture Friday or in an earlier shootout with police that left his older brother dead, said the source, a federal law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation who talked with CNN.
Among the pieces of evidence collected from Boylston Street during the past week was a tree that Tsarnaev may have leaned against before the bombing, according to a source who receives regular intelligence briefings on the Boston bombings. The source said the tree — located at the site of the second blast — was removed along with the surrounding grate, where the explosive device’s circuit board was found.
The decision to charge Tsarnaev in civilian court put an end to speculation that he would be charged as an enemy combatant, a designation sometimes used against terrorists. White House spokesman Jay Carney said that Tsarnaev is a naturalized U.S. citizen and cannot be tried by a military commission.
Trying Tsarnaev in civilian courts — like “hundreds of terrorists” to date — is “absolutely the right way to go and the appropriate way to go,” Carney said. “We have a long history of successfully prosecuting terrorists and bringing them to justice, and the president fully believes that that process will work in this case.”
That disappointed Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who has been calling since the arrest for Tsarnaev to be handed over to U.S. intelligence for questioning as an “enemy combatant.”
“There is ample evidence here on the criminal side,” Graham said. “A first-year law student could prosecute this case. What I am worried about is, what does this individual know about future attacks or terrorist organizations that may be in our midst? We have the right to gather intelligence.”
Graham also said there was also “ample evidence” that the bombings were “inspired by radical ideology.”
But while the suspect’s older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, apparently became increasingly radical in the past three or four years, according to an analysis of his social media accounts and the recollections of family members, there was no evidence Monday that he had any active association with international jihadist groups. And an affidavit outlining the charges against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are silent as to the motive for the bombing.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died after a shootout with police early Friday. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured that night, after police found him hiding in a boat in the back yard of a house in the Boston suburb of Watertown, Massachusetts.
Federal authorities handed control of the Boston thoroughfare that became a corridor of blood-spattered horror back to the city Monday evening after spending a week combing it for evidence.
A police honor guard, accompanied by a bagpiper, lowered the flag that had flown at the finish line of last week’s Boston Marathon and presented it to Mayor Thomas Menino to mark the occasion. But while the blocks around the bomb sites have been returned to municipal control, they remain closed to the public while Boston officials clean up the area and make sure the buildings are safe to occupy.
“This area will be opened up to businesses over the next few hours, and then the people will be back here in a day or so,” Police Commissioner Ed Davis said. “And they will be walking up and down this street, and the terrorists will understand that they can not keep us down.”
Shortly afterward, workers in bright yellow suits began hosing down and scrubbing the sidewalks around the second bomb site.