Boston Marathon Bomb Suspect Is Charged, To Be Tried In Federal Court

One week after unleashing hell on the city of Boston, Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been charged with “using a weapon of mass destruction.” The Boston Marathon bombings resulted in three deaths and wounded more than 200 people with injuries that included amputations.

In a criminal complaint unsealed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Tsarnaev is specifically charged with one count of using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction (namely, an improvised explosive device or IED) against persons and property within the United States resulting in death, and one count of malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death. The statutory charges authorize a penalty, upon conviction, of death or imprisonment for life or any term of years. Tsarnaev had his initial court appearance today from his hospital room.

The NY Times reports:

During the bedside arraignment, a magistrate judge advised Mr. Tsarnaev of his rights and the charges against him, according to court papers.

The affidavit accompanying the complaint provides the fullest picture to date of the evidence collected so far by F.B.I. agents and police detectives, who have been working around the clock since two blasts seconds apart silenced the cheering crowds and wrought chaos along the race’s route.

As of last night, Tsarnaev has been communicating with F.B.I. interrogators although he is hospitalized with what is believed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his neck. Officials speculate he have attempted to commit suicide prior to law enforcement taking him into custody.

The NY Times also notes:

Nothing that Mr. Tsarnaev has said — it was unclear if he was able to speak, or had been communicating with the investigators in writing — has led investigators to believe that there are other conspirators at large or unexploded devices that have not been recovered, the official said.

Although there had been some calls from right wing politicians to try Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant, White House press secretary Jay Carney said today, “We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice.”

Mr. Carney noted that it was illegal to try an American citizen in a military commission, and that a number of high-profile terrorism cases were handled in the civilian court system, including that of the would-be bomber who tried to bring down a passenger jet around Christmas 2009 with explosives in his underwear.

The Boston Globe reports that the “federal public defender’s office has been assigned to the case,” and “Miriam Conrad, the chief public defender, had no comment.”

The Boston Globe also noted that “Tsarnaev waived his right to a detention hearing. His next hearing will be May 30, court officials said.”

A full copy of the criminal complaint against Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev is available here.

In related news, the Washington Post reports that “Authorities in Massachusetts are investigating whether one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects is connected to a triple murder in the city of Waltham that occurred in September 2011, according to prosecutors.”

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, killed in the shootout with law enforcement on Thursday night in Waltham, MA, has been reported to be friends with one of the victims of that unsolved case.

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