The image came from video of Tsarnaev in a holding cell in July 2013 before his arraignment. That April, Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan detonated twin pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killing three people, including an eight-year-old boy, and injuring 260 others. Tamerlan was killed in a police shootout three days after the bombing and Dzhokhar was convicted earlier this month on 30 counts related to the blasts.
The image of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev making the gesture was shown to the jury Tuesday by prosecutors, who said it showed he was “unrepentant and unchanged” even weeks after the bombing. Today the defense elected to show the jury more of the video – of Tsarnaev arranging his hair, flashing the peace symbol and then making the obscene gesture. The defense argued that Tsarnaev was using the camera as a mirror.
Tuesday marked the first day of the penalty phase of the case, in which the same jury that convicted Tsarnaev will decide whether he should be killed. Tsarnaev’s defense admitted from the beginning that Tsarnaev was responsible for the death and destruction, but has attempted to paint Tamerlan as the mastermind and motivation behind the plot. The prosecution, on the other hand, says Dzhokhar was himself radicalized and even professed his reasons for the bombing on the wall of the dry-docked boat where he was eventually captured.