BOSTON — Seventy-five days have passed since two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. While much remains unclear, one thing is now certain: Suspected bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on 30 counts.
He’s charged with using weapons of mass destruction that killed three spectators at the race. He’s also accused of other crimes, including the shooting death of an MIT police officer.
In a carefully orchestrated news conference Thursday, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz summarized the charges against Tsarnaev, including a carjacking, using weapons of mass destruction and bombing a place of public use.
Ortiz, like all the other law enforcement officials who spoke, thanked colleagues for their diligence and made sure to give a nod to the victims.
“And it is with the hundreds of injured, as well as the victims in this case, in mind that we proceed to seek and make sure justice is served,” she said.
Ortiz also provided new details about specific steps Dzhokhar and his brother Tamerlan allegedly took in the days leading up to the attack.
“On or about March 20, the defendant and his brother traveled to a firing range in Manchester, N.H., where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev rented two 9-.mm handguns, purchased 200 rounds of ammunition, and engaged in target practice,” she said.
The indictment also alleges Tsarnaev was inspired by an online al-Qaida publication called Inspire. He purportedly downloaded a copy of the magazine that included instructions on how to build an improvised explosive device using pressure cookers.
The indictment says Tsarnaev downloaded various pieces of radical literature, including one book that glorified martyrdom, and another that included writings from Anwar al-Awlaki, the American citizen accused of working with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and killed in a 2011 U.S. drone strike in Yemen.
The indictment also references a message Tsarnaev allegedly wrote in the boat in Watertown, where he was caught on April 19.
According to the indictment, Tsarnaev wrote several phrases, including this one: “The u.s. Government is killing our innocent civilians … I can’t stand to see such evil go unpunished.”
When pressed, Ortiz would not characterize the statements as a confession. But on another occasion, when asked about the brothers’ motives, she pointed to foreign policy.
“They took these acts as an explanation,” she said, “in some ways to affect what United States foreign policy may be.”
Seventeen of the 30 charges could carry the death penalty. But, Ortiz says, whether Tsarnaev will actually face that fate is up to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
The Middlesex DA’s office has filed similar charges against Tsarnaev in its own indictment.
Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley is not filing his own charges. He says it’s best for the case to be prosecuted in federal court, and any indictments the county might offer would be redundant.
Nonetheless, he was on hand for the grand jury indictment Thursday.
“Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s justice will be in the next world, but for his brother, accountability will begin right here in the district of Massachusetts,” Conley said.
Dzokhar Tsarnaev will have his day in court next month. He’ll be arraigned on July 10.
– Here’s the indictment (via Scribd):