Tsarnaev Attorney: 'It Was Him'

Defense admits his role in marathon bombings, but blames his brother
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2015 12:19 PM CST
Tsarnaev Attorney: 'It Was Him'
In this Jan. 5 courtroom sketch, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is depicted beside US District Judge George O'Toole Jr.   (AP Photo/Jane Flavell Collins, File)

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev seems to have a simple legal defense: Blame Tamerlan. As opening arguments got underway in Boston today in the marathon bombing trial, Tsarnaev's attorney made what the AP calls a "startling" admission: "It was him," said Judy Clarke. But she said Dzhokhar, now 21, was under the sway of his "self-radicalized" brother. "The evidence will not establish and we will not argue that Tamerlan put a gun to Dzhokhar's head or that he forced him to join in the plan," said Clarke, "but you will hear evidence about the kind of influence that this older brother had." Dzhokhar should be held accountable, but he followed a "path laid by his brother."

Assistant US Attorney William Weinreb, meanwhile, said the younger Tsarnaev had "murder in his heart" and had become radicalized by immersing himself in extremist literature, reports the Boston Globe. "He believed the US government is the enemy of Muslim people," Weinreb said. "He did (the bombing) because he thought it would help secure him a place in paradise." Weinreb also pointed out that Tsarnaev went to a Whole Foods less than a half-hour after the bombings, where surveillance video shows him taking time to figure out what type of milk to buy. Later, he returned to school and "acted like he didn't have a care in the world." (More Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stories.)

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