Testimony in the penalty phase of the Boston bombing trial was canceled Thursday because of a juror with a “temporary illness,” the judge said.
The relatives of defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – who traveled from Russia – were expected to testify Thursday and leave the country the next day will. They'll now stay the weekend and are expected to testify Monday, WBZ reported.
As the judge and attorneys met behind closed doors to discuss the sick juror, several Russian women accompanied by FBI agents and wearing ankle bracelets were seen walking the hallways of the federal courthouse in Boston. Thursday was the first time that the unidentified Tsarnaev relatives were seen at the courthouse since they arrived last week.
The trial is in the final stage of testimony with the defense arguing that Tsarnaev should be spared the death penalty. On April 8, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted of all 30 charges against him for the April 2013 attacks. 17 of the charges carry the possibility of the death penalty.
The defense has largely focused its case on showing the jury that Tsarnaev’s deceased older brother, Tamerlan, was the mastermind os the bombing plot that killed three and injured more than 260 and later led to the killing of MIT Police Officer Sean Collier.
To focus the jury's attention on Tamerlan, the defense has called a range of witnesses from the older brother's past — a high school jazz teacher, friends who partied and saw the older Tsarnaev smoke weed, and multiple associates from Tamerlan's boxing days.
John Curran, a former boxing instructor for Tamerlan, told the jury this week that when he saw the defendant at the gym, Dzhokhar followed his older brother around like a “puppy.”
During the cross-examination of Kendick Ball, another boxing associate of Tamerlan, Ball asked the prosecutor if he was talking about Tamerlan when he asked him about “the defendant.”
Evidence presented by the defense this week has also raised questions about Tamerlan’s widow, Katherine Tsarnaev. Forensic evidence from Katherine Tsarnaev’s laptop presented in court revealed that she searched "wife of mujahideen" and "rewards for wife of mujahideen" while her husband was in Dagestan in 2012.
Katherine Tsarnaev’s mother, Judith Russell, took the stand on Monday and testified that Tamerlan had no interest in getting to know her family and tried to push his Islamic religion on her when he would visit them in Rhode Island.
After spending the first two days of its presentation focusing on Tamerlan, the defense put witnesses on the stand that explained what the younger Tsarnaev was like as a child.
Tracy Gordon, an elementary school teacher of Dzhokhar, said Wednesday that he was an “outstanding student,” “kind,” and “very hardworking.”
A friend of Dzhokhar’s from high school and college, Alexa Guevar, testified that she last hung out with Dzokhar a couple weeks before the marathon bombing. She cried on the on the stand as she told the jury "I really miss the person that I knew. He was a good friend."
Jurors were shown photos of the defendant as a child.
The jury will hear even more about the older Tsarnaev brother’s psyche when the Tsarnaev family members take the stand next week. In his opening statement, defense attorney David Bruck told the jury that "relatives who have come here from Russia will describe how fanatical" Tamerlan had become.
Michael Hayes is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Mike Hayes at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.