|Bombing Suspect Has Online Fans|
|By ALYSSA NEWCOMB (@alyssanewcomb)||Apr 23, 2013, 11:38 AM|
Boston has rallied around its police and victims of the marathon bombing, but there are thousands of people who are rallying around Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the man accused carrying out the atrocity.
"We truly believe he has been set up and that there is not enough evidence to incriminate him," said the Facebook group "Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Is Innocent," which has more than 12,000 members.
On Twitter, the hashtag #FreeJahar, the nickname Tsarnaev goes by, has gained traction. A Change.org petition addressed to President Obama has garnered more than 6,000 signatures, saying Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, who died in a gun battle with police, are "wrongfully accused of something they did not do."
Tsarnaev was read his rights and charged on Monday with using a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property resulting in death. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
Anzor Tsarnaev, the father of the accused bombers, said that his sons were "set up" and that they are "very nice kids" who have no experience with weapons and explosives.
It's a conclusion many of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's supporters have also reached.
At the center of the Twitter movement to exonerate the teenager is Troy Crossley, 20, of Chelsea, Mass., who said he is a friend of Tsarnaev.
Crossley did not return a request for an interview, however he has been one of his Tsarnaev's most prolific supporters, rousing an online base of people who believe there's more to the story than what federal investigators laid out in a charging document on Monday.
For other supporters, sympathy for the suspect seemed to be the reason they vocalized their support.
"#freejahar he had his whole life ahead of him. He was a Wrestler & in collage. He was gonna do good in life. I just cant see him doing this," @OnneDirection5 tweeted.
"Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is really cute. I don't care what anyone says," @Cristina__Des tweeted. "I'd date him."
Many notorious accused criminals have attracted legions of fans.
Confessed killer Jodi Arias has sold paintings for $300 a pop on eBay. Luka Magnotta, the so-called "Cannibal killer" and onetime porn actor has attracted legions of female fans who fawn over his photos. And Casey Anthony, who was acquitted of killing her daughter, lives "free off the kindness of others," receiving cash and gift cards in the mail.