back to top

The 8 Most Important Moments So Far From The Boston Marathon Bombing Trial

After calling 92 witnesses over 15 days, the government rested its case against 21-year-old defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the Boston Marathon bombing trial. Now it is the defense's turn to present its case. Here are eight key moments from the trial.

Posted on

"It was him." That one succinct sentence helped Tsarnaev's star death-penalty defense attorney grab headlines on day one of the Boston bombing trial. She punctuated this admission of guilt with three more words: "He did this."

This guilty declaration helped Tsarnaev's team make it clear to the jury what their strategy is: They want to prove that their client doesn't deserve a death sentence, not to try to get the Boston bomber acquitted (because he's guilty and that would be unreasonable).

Could an equally compelling closing statement from Clarke save Tsarnaev's life?

Advertisement

On day two, the father of Martin Richard, the 8-year-old boy killed during the second bombing, testified.

Bill Richard's gripping appearance closed out the day and the first week of testimony at the trial. When he was finished, it was clear that his eyes are the lens that the government hopes the jurors will see the rest of the case from.

Richard spoke calmly — pausing at times to keep his composure — as he brought the jury to tears with his story about how he left Martin laid out on the pavement next to his injured wife to go and save their 6-year-old daughter whose foot had been blown off.

"I saw Denise and other people hovering over, trying to help Martin. I knew that I needed to get back and help Jane. When I saw Martin's condition I knew that he wasn't going to make it," Richard said.

One of the most anticipated pieces of evidence that the government promised to present at the trial was revealed when the prosecution showed a surveillance video of Dzohkhar Tsarnaev placing his backpack containing the second pressure-cooker bomb behind 8-year-old Martin Richard.

In the footage recovered by the FBI from The Forum restaurant on Boylston Street, Tsarnaev is seen walking on the sidewalk, carrying a backpack, before stopping in front of the restaurant, directly behind the Richard family.

On video, as the first bomb goes off up the block, the crowd turns toward the explosion. Tsarnaev, no longer holding the bag, walks away. Then seconds later, the sidewalk becomes engulfed in smoke as the second bomb goes off.

Watch a clip of the surveillance video that shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev walk away before the second bomb explodes:

buzzfeed-video1.s3.amazonaws.com

Lead defense attorney Miriam Conrad questions an FBI agent about Tsarnaev's Twitter account.

USAMA

FBI agent revealed during testimony that the bureau failed to recognize that this Tsarnaev tweet was referencing popular Comedy Central television show Tosh 2.0.

Advertisement

On day four, Miriam Conrad managed to embarrass FBI Special Agent Steven Kimball during heated cross-examination where Tsarnaev's lead defense attorney questioned the bureau's analysis of Tsarnaev's Twitter account.

Conrad pointed out that during his testimony, Kimball misrepresented several tweets that the FBI claimed were evidence of radicalization that were actually references to pop songs, rap lyrics, and a Comedy Central TV show.

Conrad also informed Kimball that he misidentified an image of a mosque in Grozny, Chechnya, as the Muslim holy site, Mecca. Kimball admitted on the stand that he hadn't bothered to look at a photo of Mecca prior to giving his opinion on the image.

These holes Conrad poked in Kimball's testimony made it appear that the FBI's analysis of Tsarnaev's Twitter account was lazy and incomplete. Furthermore, it offered the defense an open opportunity to demonstrate that their client was tweeting like a typical teen.

The jury is shown Dun Meng’s daring escape video.

USAMA

Dung Meng escapes to a gas station across the street from where the Tsarnaev brothers are parked and begs the clerk to call 911.

On day six, the complete surveillance video showing the Boston Marathon bombers' carjacking victim escaping the Tsarnaev brothers was made public for the first time by the government and shown to the jury.

Watch the complete video of Meng's escape:

buzzfeed-video1.s3.amazonaws.com
Advertisement

The note that Tsarnaev wrote in pencil while hiding in a Watertown, Massachusetts, boat during the four-day manhunt was revealed for the first time in full — only a few words were obscured by bullet holes.

Here is the complete message that was recovered from the boat:

I'm jealous of my brother who ha [hole] ceived the reward of jannutul Firdaus (inshallah) before me. I do not mourn because his soul is very much alive. God has a plan for each person. Mine was to hide in his boat and shed some light on our actions I ask Allah to make me a shahied (iA) to allow me to return to him and be among all the righteous people in the highs levels of heaven.

He who Allah guides no one can misguide.

A [hole] bar!

I bear witness that there is no God but Allah
and that Muhammad is his messenger [hole] r actions came
with [hole] a [hole] sage and that
is [hole] ha Illalah. The U.S.
Government is killing our innocent
civilians but most of you already
know that. As a M [hole] I can't
stand to see such evil go unpunished,
we Muslims are one body, you hurt
one you hurt us all, well at least that's
how Muhammad (pbuh) wanted it to be [hole] ever,
the ummah is beginning to rise/awa [hole]
has awoken the mujahideen, know you are
fighting men who look into the barrel of your
gun and see heaven, now how can you compete
with that. We are promised victory and we
will surely get it. Now I don't like killing
innocent people it is forbidden in Islam
but due to said [hole] it is allowed.

All credit goes [hole]

The jury was taken to an undisclosed location in Boston to view the entire boat, which was riddled with more than 200 bullet holes.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's childhood friend Stephen Silva took the stand to testify that he provided the Boston bomber with the P95 Ruger 9mm handgun used to kill Officer Sean Collier, carjack Dun Meng, and face off against the police in a gun-fight in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Months before the bombing, Silva said Tsarnaev asked him to borrow the gun because "he wanted to rip [rob] some kids from [University of Rhode Island]."

Silva agreed to loan it to him, and about a month later Tsarnaev came back to pick up the pistol and "food for the dog," his code for bullets.

"I thought I would get the gun back in a couple weeks at most," Silva said.

Six months after the bombing, Silva was arrested on drug charges. He has reportedly made a deal for a lesser sentence in return for testifying against Tsarnaev.

The government hopes Silva's testimony will help show the jury that Tsarnaev had an active role in the planning of April 2013 attacks and wasn't just his older brother Tamerlan's pawn.

The government finished its presentation by showing jurors the grisly autopsy photos of bombing victims Lingzi Lu, Krystle Campbell, and Martin Richard.

The images, which moved some jurors to tears, were accompanied by chilling testimony by the medical examiners who performed the autopsies on the deceased.

Pieces of bloody shrapnel were held up in court as the examiners told the jury that the twisted metal had been recovered from the bodies during the autopsies.

Jurors winced at learning that Krystle Campbell and Lingzi Lu may have lived in agonizing pain for more than a minute after their bodies were torn apart by the blasts.

Some jurors were moved to sobs as Boston's chief medical examiner, Dr. Henry Nields, described the 6-by-6-inch hole blown into the side of Martin Richard's torso.

Former Federal Prosecutor and Columbia Law professor Daniel Richman described the strategy in closing with the autopsy photos.

"Even as some suggest that the jury will somehow get inflamed, the government can fairly point out that, in our visual society, this is a useful way to recenter the jury on the awfulness of the bombing," Richman told BuzzFeed News.

While these horrific images will clearly be something that no juror will soon forget, the government's primary hope is that the jury as a whole will feel they demonstrate the exceptional cruelty of the act — making it deserved of the death penalty.

The last question Assistant U.S. Attorney and lead prosecutor in the Boston Marathon bombing case Bill Weinreb asked before resting the government's case: "How old was Martin Richard?"

"He was 8 years old," Nields replied.

Michael Hayes is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Mike Hayes at mike@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.