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Tsarnaev brother charged in deadly Marathon bombing

Associated Press | 4/24/2013, 8:36 a.m.
Mayor Thomas Menino paused for a moment of reflection during an interfaith service at the Cathedral of the...
Mayor Thomas Menino paused for a moment of reflection during an interfaith service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston last Thursday. Mayor’s Office

U.S. prosecutors charged the seriously wounded Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with carrying out one of the Boston Marathon bombings that ultimately left three people dead and more than 200 wounded, including a Transit police officer still clinging for life.   

In a criminal complaint filed Monday in Boston federal court, prosecutors alleged that Tsarnaev, 19, detonated a weapon of mass destruction, and used an explosive to maliciously destroy property. The charges carry a possible death sentence if he is convicted.

A federal magistrate went to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, where Tsarnaev is being treated for injuries to his head, neck, leg and hand that have left him unable to speak. With the exception of saying “no” when asked if he could afford an attorney, Tsarnaev has communicated with his interrogators in writing.

Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan, 26, was the other bomber, according to U.S. authorities, and was killed during last week’s shootout with police. The brothers, ethnic Chechens from Russia, had been living in the U.S. for about a decade.

The indictment doesn’t include some of the state-level offenses for which Tsarnaev is a suspect, including the murder of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer and the wounding of another officer during a shootout.The Middlesex County Attorney General’s Office would handle a possible murder indictment.

The FBI affidavit cites video footage and photographs and gives the most complete official description yet of what happened in the bombings.

The video and photos show the two brothers carrying backpacks as they walk onto Boylston Street, the scene of the bombings, about 11 minutes before the first blast occurs at 2:49 p.m., the affidavit said.

At about 2:42 p.m., Tamerlan Tsarnaev, accused of planting the bomb that caused the first blast nearest the finish line, left his brother and was seen carrying the backpack that investigators believe contained the first bomb, according to the affidavit.

Three minutes later, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev walked toward the Forum restaurant and left a backpack on the ground, according to video surveillance cited in the affidavit. About 30 seconds before the first bomb exploded, video footage shows him looking at his cellphone and then lifting the phone to his ear as if to speak, the FBI affidavit said.

A few seconds after his apparent call, the first explosion a block away drew the crowd’s attention, but Dzhokhar Tsarnaev “virtually alone among the individuals in front of the restaurant, appears calm,” the affidavit said.

He glanced toward the blast and then walked in the other direction rapidly but calmly, the FBI affidavit said. Ten seconds later, the second blast occurred, and evidence shows the backpack Dzhokar Tsarnaev left behind in front of the Forum restaurant is the only thing that could have caused the second blast, the FBI affidavit said.

The marathon bombs, the affidavit stated, were “low-grade explosives that were housed in pressure cookers,” and packed with BBs, nails and green-colored hobby fuse.

The FBI affidavit also provides details of the chaotic getaway attempt the brothers made late Thursday and early Friday morning, which included what authorities said was an ambush that killed a police officer, a carjacking and then a shootout.