The defense team of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzokhar Tsarnaev is likely to focus on his dead brother during his trial when the case begins. The defense team has reportedly decided to put the blame for the 2013 bomb attacks on his dead elder brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
"He was the eldest one and he, in many ways, was the role model for his sisters and his brother," Elmirza Khozhugov, former husband of Tamerlan's sister, Ailina, told The Associated Press (AP).
Dzokhar, now 21, faces 30 charges that accuse him of conspiring with Tamerlan, 26, of building and detonating two pressure cooker bombs at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, and then engaging in a protracted shootout with the police in the days to follow. He has pleaded not guilty and faces a possible death penalty, if convicted.
The crime, one of the worst terror incidents in the United States since 9/11, killed three and injured over 260. Tamerlan was killed days after the bombings in a gun battle with the police. Dzokhar, who at the time was 19, was found hiding in a boat in the town of Watertown, Massachusetts.
The most prominent attorney defending him, Judy Clarke, is known for striking pre-trial plea deals, but has not done so in this case. The defense has also repeatedly called for delaying or moving the trial, USA Today reported.
Dzokhar’s lawyers have reportedly indicated they will try to prove that the bombings were masterminded by Tamerlan, and that Dzokhar was possibly intimidated into helping him.
The defense court has argued that if Dzokhar is convicted by a jury, the decision as to whether or not he should get the death penalty should be influenced by “the extent to which it views Tamerlan Tsarnaev as having induced or coerced his young brother."
Massachusetts, where Dzokhar is being tried, does not have capital punishment, but he is being judged in a federal trial. Under federal law, juries weighing a sentence can consider mitigating it if the defendant was under “unusual and substantial distress,” even if the said distress is not used as a defense against the charges themselves. The defense reportedly may use Tamerlan’s involvement in a triple murder as a possible factor, attorney David Hoose told AP.
Tamerlan is implicated murder of three men in Waltham, Massachusetts, who were found dead in 2011 with their throats cut and marijuana on their persons. Investigators say he was also accused by his friend, Ibragim Todashev, who was shot to death by federal prosecutors while being questioned.
The prosecution is reportedly prepared to argue the case that Dzokhar was a willing and aware participant in the bombings, citing a message he scrawled inside the boat prior to being captured by police in April 2013. "The US Government is killing our innocent civilians but most of you already know that ... I can't stand to see such evil go unpunished," he wrote, blaming the U.S. for the deaths of civilians during wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to court documents.