BOSTON – Jurors in the trial on Tuesday of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev got to see the bloodstained message that prosecutors say he wrote on the inside of a boat he was hiding in before his violent capture, explaining his reasoning for killing innocent people.
“We Muslims are one body you hurt one you hurt us all,” the message read, citing what it said was aggression in Muslim lands. “I don’t like killing innocent people it is forbidden in islam, but due to said () it is allowed,” the message read, with a word missing due to a bullet hole.
Boston Police Officer Todd Brown identified a photograph of the message, displayed to the jury on screens in U.S. District Court in Boston, showing bullet holes and blood dripping over the words.
Tsarnaev, 21, is accused of killing three people and injuring 264 with a pair of homemade bombs at the race’s crowded finish line on April 15, 2013, as well as fatally shooting a police officer three days later as he and his brother tried to flee the city.
Federal prosecutors contend that Tsarnaev, who emigrated with his family from Chechnya, was driven by an extremist view of Islam and a desire to strike back at the United States in revenge for military campaigns in Muslim-dominated countries.
Defense lawyers argue that his older brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan, was the driving force behind the attacks and that his younger brother followed him out of a sense of submission. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died four days after the bombing when his younger brother inadvertently ran him over with a car as he fled a gunbattle with police.
Tsarnaev, who was shot and seriously injured before being captured in a dry-docked boat in Watertown, just outside Boston, faces the death penalty if convicted.
Earlier on Tuesday, an FBI agent testified that Tsarnaev attended the world renowned race the year before the attack and posted an ominous tweet about people being “defeated.”
FBI agent Stephen Kimball said Tsarnaev, using the Twitter handle J_Tsar, wrote “they will spend their money and they will regret it and then they will be defeated” on April 16, 2012, the day of that year’s marathon. Kimball said “yes” when asked if the FBI believed he attended the race in 2012.
Defense attorney Miriam Conrad questioned Kimball about other tweets from Tsarnaev, including ones citing rap lyrics, and jokes like “I want to study a broad or two.”
“Is it fair to say that in addition to the 45 tweets that the government chose for you to introduce, there are a lot of tweets about things like girls, cars, food, sleep, homework, complaining about studying,” she asked.
“Yes,” Kimball responded.
Conrad also pointed out that a background photo on one of Tsarnaev’s two Twitter accounts was of the city of Grozny in Chechnya, not of Mecca, the sacred city for Muslims in Saudi Arabia, as Kimball had earlier suggested.
Other FBI agents on Tuesday described how some 3,000 piece of evidence, including shrapnel and body parts, were retrieved from the blast sites near the marathon finish line, some on surrounding rooftops as high as four-stories.
The jury has heard from 33 witnesses, including victims and emergency workers, during the trial’s first four days. That brisk pace reflects the fact that defense lawyers, who opened their case by acknowledging Tsarnaev committed the crimes, have so far cross-examined only four witnesses.
The bombing killed Martin Richard, 8; Krystle Campbell, 29, and Lingzi Lu, 23. Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, 27, was shot to death three days later.
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