Jihad and Remorse Debated as Tsarnaev Trial Goes to Jury

Will Dzhokhar Tsarnaev be sentenced to death or life in prison? The decision is in the jury’s hands now.

Photo via AP

Photo via AP

After two and a half months, each side in the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial gave the jury a new argument to ponder in today’s closing statements. The defense, bolstered by Sister Helen Prejean’s testimony this week, argued that life in prison would give Tsarnaev a chance at redemption. The prosecution, arguing for death, ended with a new attack on the idea that Tsarnaev joined the Boston Marathon bombings because of his older brother’s domineering influence.

Judy Clarke, the famed defense lawyer, argued that Tsarnaev’s comment to Prejean that “no one deserves to suffer like [the bombing victims] did” proves he has changed.

“That just does not sound like the same boy who wrote in the boat, ‘I don’t like killing innocent people,’” Clarke said. “That is growth, that is maturity. What Sister Helen gave you the opportunity to see is, this kid is on that path toward growth and remorse.” An unrepentant jihadi, she added, wouldn’t meet with a Catholic nun and reveal his regrets to her.

At last, the defense had a way to counter the prosecution’s portrait of Tsarnaev as a remorseless killer who bought milk and tweeted he was “stress-free” after the bombings—and the indifferent face Tsarnaev presents at trial. Today, the judge told jurors they could not consider the defendant’s appearance or demeanor. But throughout the trial, he sat a few feet from the witness stand, in the jury’s line of sight. Surely the jurors, like the press, noticed Tsarnaev’s slouch and his stare at the floor.

Today, Clarke returned to the defense’s main argument at trial: that Tamerlan Tsarnaev planned the bombing and influenced his younger brother to join him. “Jahar would not have done this [but] for Tamerlan,” she argued.

Clarke finished with an impassioned argument that life in prison would allow more closure than an execution. For Tsarnaev, there’d be “no glory and stature that martyrdom will bring,” she argued. She hinted that some victims and their families preferred a life sentence. “His name will fade from headlines, fade from the news altogether, and those who so desperately no longer want to be reminded of him won’t.” Life in prison, she argued, “allows for hope, for redemption and a greater opportunity for healing for everyone involved,” and “demonstrates the resilience of this community.”

Prosecutor William Weinreb’s rebuttal mounted the strongest attack yet on the older-brother defense.

“Where is the evidence of mind control? Evidence he was under his brother’s spell?” Weinreb asked. “We haven’t heard it from any witnesses, just the mouths of defense attorneys.” He argued that the younger Tsarnaev was more like his brother than different. “Both were physically strong, one a boxer, one a wrestler. Both were emotionally strong, took care of themselves, and didn’t need a shoulder to cry on. Both were men of action.”

Weinreb also attacked the defense argument that Chechens traditionally obey their older brothers. “There was no tradition of obeying elders in the Tsarnaev family,” he said. Tsarnaev’s parents, one Chechen and one Avar, had rebelled against their families by marrying outside their ethnicities. Tamerlan defied his mother’s wishes by marrying Katherine Russell, who wasn’t Muslim. (Russell converted to Islam after the marriage, Clarke had reminded jurors, citing Tamerlan’s influence.)

Today, more than any other day in the trial, the prosecutors repeatedly called Tsarnaev a terrorist—they used some variation of the word “terror” more than two dozen times. Weinreb noted that Tsarnaev attacked the marathon to punish the United States for its foreign wars. Tsarnaev’s note in the drydocked boat, he said, explained why he would “shred people alive in front of friends and family members to advance a political agenda.”

To counter Clarke’s argument that Tamerlan radicalized his younger brother by plying him with jihadi magazines, videos, and lectures, Weinreb argued that Tsarnaev’s choice was his own. “Does it matter whether you get your jihadi files from your brother, distant cousin, or Anwar al-Awlaki himself?” he asked. “The defendant had to become a believer, and that is something he did entirely by himself.”

Weinreb questioned whether Prejean’s testimony about Tsarnaev’s sympathy amounted to much. He argued that Tsarnaev “expressed pretty much the same sentiment” on the boat’s wall, when he wrote that he didn’t like killing innocent people, but it was sometimes allowed. “The fact he’s willing to go so far as to say, ‘No one should have to suffer like that’—what does that really tell you about his beliefs?”

For the government, which had fought to keep Prejean off the stand, it may have been just enough to blunt her testimony and the defense’s final effort to save Tsarnaev’s life.

  • child80

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  • Patriarch

    This case, with over 500 sealed documents is nothing but a BRADY

    What the reporters failed to tweet, likely due to lack of intellectual curiosity is
    that Mellin has a history of misconduct:



    This case was a FRAUD UPON THE PEOPLE

    Bostonians, especially the BOSTON Media, have ZERO credibility. They
    refused to dig for obvious discrepancies. A COMPLETE DERELICTION OF




    For example:
    1. Tamerlan had a beard at the gym on 4-13-13, & the SAME BEARD on 4-19-13 (autopsy photo), but no beard in the marathon video.
    2. The center sidewalk shadow was a completely different shade in the video
    regardless of the angle of the sun. No time stamp either on the video.
    3. There was no proof Jahar dropped his backpack filled with any explosive
    detonating material, since the indictment SPECIFICALLY DESCRIBED A
    BLACK BACKPACK – Jahar’s was white.
    4. Jahar never admitted guilt; his attorney did…likely he was conned.
    minutes before he was signaled to swoop in & put the phony Bauman prosthesis stick on him in a wheelchair, IT EVEN FELL OFF FOR THE PHOTO
    6. Carlos has a bad history of ARSON with the FBI IN MIAMI. HE IS THE CLASSIC CON MAN. THIS WAS AN “IOU”,get out of jail free card…& he was
    enriched by generous contributors…all FRAUD.
    In addition, a MOVIE producer identified him as an ACTOR in his film, “The Prosecution of a U.S. PRESIDENT (2012)
    7. Ask any orthopedic surgeon if you allow a trauma victim to sit for 10 minutes before removing him…in a prone position. A wheelchair will cause him
    to bleed to death.
    8. Jahar asks where his brother is continuously, yet a triple digit iq Rodin
    is asked to believe that he wrote a note that his “dead” brother is
    martyred on the side of a fiberglass boat …in calligraphy no less.
    9. Nether brother had Collier’s blood spatter on their clothes.
    10. Judy Clarke was a pro forma boilerplate proxy. Jahar was never
    in court before on a criminal matter, so he had no basis to see what a fraud she is. I estimate she & Bruck earned $5 million including hotels, car/driver,
    meals, & air transportation every weekend to travel home.
    11. Bruck never even filed a pro hac Vicie motion with a valid Bar number.

    The USA is a COMPLETE embarrassment/SHAM on the world stage, & this
    case is tangible proof of what our country has become since the murder of JFK.


    We see what’s called “Brady violations” all the time in cases of wrongful
    conviction. This is when a prosecutor does not turn over exculpatory
    evidence to the defense. This violates the law, but there never seem to be any
    consequences. And prosecutors are protected from being sued by
    defendants who have been wrongfully convicted by “prosecutorial immunity.”
    In Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409 (1976), the U.S. Supreme Court established absolute immunity for district attorneys or prosecutors from civil suits resulting from their government duties.

    “Prosecutors are rarely disciplined or criminally prosecuted for their
    misconduct, and the victims of this misconduct are generally denied any civil remedy because of prosecutorial immunities.” Margaret Z. Johns

    “In short, prosecutorial misconduct is alarmingly common, and there is no
    corrective mechanism, no accountability, no effective deterrent, and—because of prosecutorial immunities—often no civil remedy. As one
    commentator observed, the arguments supporting absolute prosecutorial immunity “offer a wry blend of fairy tale and horror story.””

    The Department of Justice continues to hide evidence. Holder’s view: Only prosecutors can decide what is “material to the defense,” and if they decide
    it’s not material, they don’t disclose it—even if it is obviously favorable to the
    defense. Mr. Holder’s Department is even seeking to change the ethical rules in each state to comport with the Department’s view and make it easier for
    prosecutors to hide evidence. Mr. Holder’s view of the Brady rule puts the prosecutor in total and sole control of the outcome of the case. It licenses him to lie.

    That the reporters parroted the prosecution, believing they have not violated
    the BRADY RULE (withholding of evidence) speaks volumes about their SLOTFULNESS, & the devolution of DEMOCRACY IN OUR CORRUPT MOB RULE GOVERNMENT.
    WEINREB IS AN YIDDISHKEIT EMBARRASSMENT ( I can say that because I am of the “TRIBE”.)


    THE HALLS OF INJUSTICE & the Salem Witch Trials live on in the Commonwealth….a sad state of affairs.