In the Boston Marathon bombing trial the prosecution took 92 witnesses and more than three weeks to present their case, but today the defense for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev rested after just four witnesses and about six hours.
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Weeks ago during opening statements defense attorney Judy Clarke admitted to Tsarnaev’s role in the bombing and the violent aftermath, but argued it was Dzhokhar’s older brother Tamerlan who was primarily responsible for the mayhem nearly two years ago in April 2013. In the six hours she used today, Clarke focused on evidence that she said showed it was Tamerlan who “led the way.”
One witness, an FBI fingerprint analyst, told jurors that investigators found a fingerprint or fingerprints from Tamerlan Tsarnaev on a pressure cooker bomb lid recovered from Watertown, where the brothers engaged in a firefight with police days after the bombing, on possible bomb making supplies including rolls of tape, a caulking gun, a soldering gun, a jar of nails, and a book on DIY wiring all found in the Tsarnaev family home. None of those items, potential bomb components, had Dzhokhar's fingerprints.
The analyst also testified that 500 items were tested for fingerprints from the marathon bombing scenes, but only two items had recoverable fingerprints. Pieces of cardboard believed to be part of the first bomb contained prints belonging to Tamerlan, none to Dzhokhar. A shredded backpack also located at the scene contained a crumbled piece of paper that had Tamerlan's palm prints but, again, none belonging to Dzhokhar, the analyst said.
The prosecution fired back, however, saying that just because an item doesn't contain a fingerprint doesn't mean someone did not touch it. "They could've used gloves,” the government said.
Earlier today a computer forensic expert, testifying for the defense, said it was on Tamerlan's laptop that experts found the search terms: "Ruger" "gun store" and "fireworks firing system,” but not on Dzhokhar's laptop. The brothers would use a Ruger 9mm pistol to allegedly murder a police officer three days after the marathon bombing.
That same expert testified that Tamerlan's computer showed searches for "Boston Marathon," but Dzhokhar's laptop didn't search that term until after the bombings.
The defense showed a digital trail that they said showed Tamerlan downloaded an issue of Inspire magazine to his computer then transferred it to a thumb drive. That same thumb drive used to transfer the Inspire copy to Dzhokhar's computer, the defense said. The magazine included an infamous bomb-making how-to article called “How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.”
A majority of searches on Dzhokhar's computer showed he was mostly on Facebook or a Russian social networking site, the defense said.
Clarke had said during opening remarks that while Tamerlan was “looking and immersed in death and destruction and carnage in the Middle East, Dzhokhar spent most of his time doing what teenagers do: Facebook, cars, girls.”
In another rebuttal, the prosecution argued that it is impossible to know who is using a computer unless there is a camera planted on it showing someone actively operating the device. On at least on one occasion, the prosecution said, Dzhokhar did use Tamerlan's computer to log into his personal email account.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in the Watertown shootout three days after two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding 260 others on April 15, 2013. Dzhokhar escaped the shootout but was captured hours later hiding in a dry-docked boat. Bleeding in the boat, he had allegedly scrawled a message implying the marathon bombing was revenge for the death of “innocent Muslims” in the Middle East.
Dzhokhar has pleaded not guilty to 30 counts related to the bombing, and, if convicted, he could face the death penalty.
At the end of today’s session, the judge announced the trial will take a break for a few days with closing arguments starting next Monday.