Ballroom Dancer Describes Losing Leg In Marathon Bombing

After the first bomb went off down the street at the Boston Marathon, Adrianne Haslet-Davis somehow knew there was another one coming.

"I wrapped my arms around my husband and said, `The next one's gonna hit, the next one's gonna hit,"' she recalled Wednesday at the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The next thing she knew, she was on the ground. Her husband, Adam, tied a tourniquet around her ravaged left leg, but he couldn't stop screaming.

"My first thought is, he's in shock and I have to save myself," she said.

The professional ballroom dancer crawled through broken glass, dragging her bloody leg along the pavement, shredding her forearms in the process. She made it into a restaurant.

Her husband walked in soon after, then collapsed on the stairs. An artery in his foot was spurting blood, his face grew pale, and his eyes began rolling back in his head, she said.

"I thought he was dying," she said.

He survived; she ended up losing her leg.

Her account - some of the rawest testimony heard to date in the case - came on the second day of the penalty phase of Tsarnaev's trial. The jury that convicted the 21-year-old former college student in the bombing is deciding whether should get the death penalty.

Three people were killed and more than 260 wounded when Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, detonated two pressure-cooker bombs near the finish line of the race on April 15, 2013. Tsarnaev was also convicted in the killing of an MIT police officer as the brothers attempted to flee.

Tsarnaev's lawyers say Tamerlan, 26, masterminded the attack and recruited his impressionable younger brother, then 19, to help him. They say his life should be spared.

But prosecutors, seeking to emphasize the brutality of the attack, have called a long list of victims and their families to describe the heartbreaking consequences.

Haslet-Davis sobbed and covered her face with her hand as she described the terrifying aftermath of the bombing. She said she thought her husband was dead and she would be next.

At the hospital, she instinctively told medical personnel what she did for a living as they looked at her leg.

"I just kept screaming that I was a ballroom dancer," she said.

She called her parents to say goodbye.

"I said, `I've been in a terrorist attack and I don't think I have a foot left anymore, and I'm in really bad shape, and I really need to talk to you, and this might be it,"' she said.

Her husband, an Air Force officer who had returned from Afghanistan just two weeks before the marathon, wasn't in court Wednesday.

"He has bravely admitted himself into a mental facility at the VA hospital," she said.

As she left the witness stand, she gave a long, furious glare at Tsarnaev. His lawyers leaned in toward him as if to protect him.

In other testimony Wednesday, Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old Boston University graduate student from China who was killed in the bombing, was remembered as a highly intelligent, vivacious young woman who took pleasure even in the smallest things, especially food.

"Everything you cook for her, she say, `It's so good. It's awesome,"' said Jinyan Zhao, a surrogate aunt to Lu. She called Lu "a beautiful nerd."

Also Wednesday, Tsarnaev's lawyers tried to blunt the impact of a photo of Tsarnaev giving the finger to a security camera in his jail cell three months after the bombing.

His lawyers showed the jury video clips of him looking into the camera, apparently fixing his hair in the reflective glass, and then making a slightly angled, two-finger gesture similar to what teenagers often do playfully in selfies. Then he raised his middle finger at the camera.

In an apparent attempt to press the argument that Tsarnaev was a "kid" who was led astray by his big brother, defense attorney Miriam Conrad asked Assistant U.S. Marshal Gary Oliveira if he knew how old Tsarnaev was at that time.

The witness said he didn't.

"You don't know that he was 19 years old?" Conrad asked.

A poll of 500 registered Massachusetts voters released Wednesday by Suffolk University found that 58 percent believed Tsarnaev should be sentenced to life in prison without parole, while 33 percent favored the death penalty.

The poll was conducted April 16-21 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

This article was originally published on April 22, 2015.



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