Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleads not guilty to Boston Marathon bombing charges
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BOSTON, July 10 (RAPSI, Ingrid Burke) - Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to all charges pending against him during an arraignment hearing in the US District Court for Massachusetts Wednesday, RAPSI reports live from the courtroom.
Please find the full live report right from the courtroom here.
In his first public appearance since his April arrest, Dzhokhar sounded and appeared to be in relatively good health. His arm and hand were in a cast, which he rubbed at times. While he appeared relaxed his face did not show a great deal of emotion. It is up for debate whether this was connected with the injuries he sustained prior to his arrest. He was guided into the courtroom by the US marshal service, which remained close at hand at all times.
He frequently glanced around the courtroom, which was filled to capacity with victims, public spectators, sketch artists, and reporters. Muffled sobs could be heard coming from a section of the audience that appeared to have been reserved for his family at a couple of points during the brief hearing, and Dzhokhar blew a kiss toward that corner of the courtroom as he was being led away by US marshals. It remains unclear which if any of his family members were in fact in attendance at today’s hearing.
As the charges were read and Dzhokhar was asked to enter a plea, his attorney explained that at this time, he would be pleading not guilty to all charges. Presiding Judge Marianne Bowler at that point insisted that the defendant respond to each grouping of charges individually. At that point, he leaned forward and stated not guilty, words he continued to repeat several times as more charges were read out.
Prosecutors intend to call 80-100 witnesses, and expect the trial to last three to four months. Monday 23 September was suggested for an initial status conference, and both parties agreed. At this point, no date has been set for the trial.
Dozens of public spectators were in attendance, though only a limited few gained entry into the courtroom for the hearing. Among the spectators were several denouncing allegations of Tsarnaev’s responsibility for the twin blasts which left three dead and upwards of 260 injured near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15.
After the hearing, some of those activists proclaiming his innocence spoke gamely with reporters, and passionately with detractors. “If you don’t like this country, go back to yours!” was heard, among other such insights. Altogether the scene remained relatively peaceful, likely owing at least in part to the heavy police presence outside of the courthouse.
Brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, aged 26 and 19 respectively, emerged as suspects in bombing case shortly after the marathon occurred. Tamerlan was killed during a police shootout later the same week. Dzhokhar was captured wounded but alive.
He was then charged in a criminal complaint dated April 21 with the use of a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property resulting in death.
Then on June 27, a federal grand jury returned a 30-count indictment against Dhzokhar. The charges include the use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and conspiracy and the bombing of a place of public use resulting in death and conspiracy among others.
According to an accompanying FBI press release, seventeen of these charges carry sentences of up to life imprisonment or the death penalty, and the rest carry sentences of life imprisonment or imprisonment for a fixed period.
According to information on the court’s website, during an arraignment hearing a defendant generally appears before a Magistrate judge, who ensures that the defendant has received a copy of the indictment and reads the indictment or states its general substance. The defendant then generally enters a plea.