Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev made his first public appearance Wednesday since being captured by authorities nearly three months ago, pleading not guilty to terrorism-related charges for the Boston Marathon attack that killed three people, including a police officer, and left more than 250 injured.
As expected, Tsarnaev, 19, pleaded not guilty to the charges at his arraignment Wednesday afternoon in Boston federal court. The court appearance was the public's first glimpse of Tsarnaev since photos emerged of the bombing suspect being subdued after a manhunt in the suburbs of Boston.
Tsarnaev was described as having "mega bed head" hair by WGBH TV reporter Adam Reilly. No cameras were allowed in the courtroom because the proceedings are part of a federal case.
"The groupies will swoon," Reilly tweeted in response to a question about Tsarnaev's hair, referencing the "Free Jahar" movement consisting mostly of girls who have a crush on the Boston bombing suspect and believe he is innocent.
Reporter Sharman Sacchetti also described Tsarnaev's appearance:
Tsarnaev keeps looking back at his family and smiling, kind of a half smile. His hair is bushy and shaggy. Hes almost smirking
â€” Sharman Sacchetti (@SharmanTV) July 10, 2013
Other reporters who witnessed Tsarnaev's arraignment said the 19-year-old appeared uninterested in the proceedings and looked back at some of the bombing victims when he was not looking at the judge. He also blew a kiss to one of his sisters.
Tsarnaev was found hiding inside a boat stashed in the backyard of a Watertown, Mass., home on April 19. He was captured after sustaining injuries in a firefight with authorities earlier in the day, in which his brother and alleged co-conspirator, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed.
The suspect could face the death penalty if convicted of the charges, but federal prosecutors remain undecided as to whether they will seek death or a life sentence.
The first public appearance of Tsarnaev since the bombings was widely anticipated, with the Associated Press reporting a heavy police presence at Boston federal court as early as 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. There were a dozen federal officers and bomb-sniffing dogs surrounding the courthouse at that time, according to the AP.
Tsarnaev didn’t have his parents supporting him in court during his arraignment. The AP reported that they were in Dagestan, Russia, on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old suspected Boston bomber was indicted by a federal grand jury on terrorism-related charges last month.
At the time of the indictment, more details were revealed as to Tsarnaev’s alleged motive for carrying out the attack on the Boston Marathon on April 15.
The Tsarnaev brothers allegedly planned and executed the bombing in retaliation for what they claimed was the unjust killing of Muslims by the United States. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a devout Muslim who became radicalized.
"We Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all," Dzhokhar Tsarnaev allegedly wrote while hiding out in the boat in Watertown. “I don't like killing innocent people,” but, "I can't stand to see such evil go unpunished.”