When the court was last in session for the Boston Marathon bombing case, jurors heard testimony about the homemade bombs placed by brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Then a medical examiner took the stand to describe the damage done by those weapons, starting with the autopsy report of 29-year-old Krystle Marie Campbell. The emotionally charged testimony continued Monday as prosecution witnesses detailed the lethal wounds suffered by two other victims and wrapped up the presentation of their case against 21-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
The younger of the two brothers stands accused of 30 federal charges, 17 of which carry the death penalty. (Tamerlan died after a shootout with police.) During its closing, the state released grisly images of the attack on April 15, 2013. The pictures were not made public, but the detailed reports from medical examiners left little to the imagination.
The grim facts were read to weeping members of the jury. Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old Boston University graduate student, was likely conscious and in pain as she bled to death from a baseball-size wound to her left leg. The youngest victim, 8-year-old Martin Richard, was burned and died from massive abdominal wounds from nails, BB pellets and wood fragments; one of his arms was virtually severed. The Richard family was in the courtroom when Martin's autopsy report was read.
Reactions from the jury ranged from anger to covering their faces to tears as they were presented with the graphic images from the autopsy reports. Those in the gallery and members of the press were not shown the more explicit material from the reports.
The defense hopes to convince jurors of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s influence over his younger brother to play for leniency in Dzhokhar’s sentencing. Earlier in the proceedings, the defense conceded Dzhokhar had indeed played a role in the Boston Marathon bombing and in the murder of MIT campus police officer Sean A. Collier.
It is unlikely that Tsarnaev will take the stand at his trial. But just after the prosecution had finished its say, the defense filed a motion to acquit him on all counts because the government had “failed to introduce evidence sufficient to establish each essential element of the offenses charged beyond a reasonable doubt.” Their arguments begin Tuesday, March 31.
Tsarnaev is on trial for the murder of the three individuals and injuring 264 others. If he's found guilty, the jury will decided whether Tsarnaev will face life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.